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Poems on Birds


I have been reading Jonathan Weisner’s beautiful book, The Beak of the Finch, listening to sandhill cranes’ rusty calls as they fly overhead, and watching starling murmurations. Questions flutter and peck at my mind. What would it be like to live so authentically, so true to my inherent identity, as a bird lives its own instinctual and evolving life? As Gerard Manley Hopkins writes, what if I could truly say “What I do is me: for that I came” and that like the bird “Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is” I would be so free and unworried and simple?


Does it cross a bird’s
mind, while it drifts on
the whimsy of thermal
lift and updraft, that
simply astounding?

Does a bird smile
pleasure at the
miraculous wings?

Does a bird think what
grace its own true being
is, the gift of its birdness?

Does the bird brain say




Look at the geese,
the sandhilll cranes,
hawks, swallows—

do they try
to hold on
to the air?


Then why do I
grasp and cling at
the stuff of my sky,



Photo by Joelle Chase, snow geese at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico

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