Tag Archives: birds

residuum

“The Distances They Keep”, Howard Nemerov, the blue swallows, 1967


this is no time
to evict
spiders,
centipedes,
the occasional, lone
boxelder bug,
dozens of out-of-season ladybird beetles
or
the almost-always odorless stinkbugs

from
our houses

to do so now means certain death, outside

there is a field mouse
in the dormant compost bin
depositing black “rice”
in washed egg shells and pomegranate rinds/

a mole engineers deeply excavated burrows around the foundation (much too close),
mound-builds in the prairie, and
constructs a minefield for toes and ankles in the remnant, dumb lawn/

the grey squirrels shelter in the woods across the snow-covered dirt road
the red squirrel in the barn is insulating with stuffing from the patio cushions/

black walnuts, please mast next year
oak sapling, pray, grow faster/

i will plant a meadow exclusively of sunflower come Spring/

black-eyed juncos,
black-capped chickadees,
bluejays,
woodpeckers,
and cardinals,
but especially,
the juncos
have learned to tolerate,
and expect my winter presence among them, per nemerov’s counsel,
i don’t wear feathers in my cap – or coat/

the remaining turkey and deer
still grieving, post-hunting season
are tentative,
but returning;
i set out stone salt licks and millet, reverently, repentantly, respectfully, for them/

i count the crows each morning
but truer, i count on them
their steady, regal presence
their voices call to me for sardines, kibble, peanuts
i oblige and always will

[can] we all [can] live here
alongside
inside
and outside together, as kin

i don’t speak
but i telepath
that,
and
this:

i am the residuum here

a wolf spider and their reflection / every spider should be presumed to be an incarnation of Anansi

Cardinal

ones

who stick

that stick

directions

virtues

numbers

sins

rules

& the hypocrites

whose pretentious cloaks

inspired the red birds’ name

cardinals are the ones

who won’t waiver

the birds who

stay

and stay

and stay

and show you

red in the green trees

red in the white snow

red in the gray rain

red in the yellow light

when

the rest

in the Great Lakes,

the Middle West

have moved on

after using/plundering

land, hearts, bodies, souls

for their

migration

they stay on

humbly

undemanding

count the red birds

count on them

they stay