Poem excerpt from 2020 Birdwatch by chamrickwriter randomstoryteller.com with image of turkey vulture by Charles J. Sharp 1024x512

2020 Birdwatch (nature heals in an unlikely year)

Poem excerpt _2020 Birdwatch_ by chamrickwriter randomstoryteller with image of daffodils 940x788px

Everything came sooner this year—

‘February Gold’ daffodils frilling

the neighbor’s yard, marching in patches,

like bonneted Dutch dolls patterning the quilts

hand-stitched by my grandmother in the halo

of a Depression glass kerosene lamp;

the ground thaw of the full worm supermoon,

with the mounding of earthworm droppings

crushed under my boot weeks before

the tropical rush of stopover warblers;

March passing, blurred with rain and dark clumps

of turkey vultures roosting in a stand

of loblolly pines—I sheltered in place,

exceeding social distancing by a backyard length,

in full retreat to an afternoon of porch sitting—

weary of text bursts and COVID-19 tweetstorms.

 

Hissing, I heard hissing, and my neighbor, fenced in,

called that the birds would not snatch the pacing cat.

I took up my father’s cracked binoculars,

trying to zero in, for the first time, on why

he hovered over field guides to American birds;

his lifelong dream was to find a birdfeeder

that defied squirrels—he never did.

The vultures’ red, shrunken heads wrinkled,

scrubbed bald, like the scalps of ancient monks;

the night before, their hooked beaks, like polished bone,

had ripped into a possum rotting by the garbage.

Free of flesh, they flapped, shaking off the damp,

and rose, thermal riding, with the two-tone underside

of their wings spread in shallow V’s—carrion-feaster comfort

wing-warping on a cleansing breeze.

My thanks to all the readers and Facebook friends who have stuck with me during my return to poetry. Your support motivated me to enter the 2020 writing competition sponsored by the Atlanta Writers Club (a great community of creatives). “2020 Birdwatch” placed as a runner-up for the Natasha Trethewey Prize for Poetry, with subsequent publication in The Blue Mountain Review. Art in any form is therapy, especially during this time, and it propels us to embrace the beauty of this world.

 

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