Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Audubon’s Peewees
I fixed a slight silver thread to the leg of each.
—J.J. Audubon

for Jeddie and Jed Smith

He sat with them until the baby birds took him
for one of them, his hairless hand
a mothering none resisted, the sighing
French hum of homesickness their ordinary
when he came, treats of worms, grubs,
a drop of goat milk for the dying one. Useless.

Silver threads, light as moon slip on night weeds,
they plucked and picked at until freed.
Life being a game, he attached them, then
dark-riddled, one by one, they removed themselves.
Blended into the nest, invisible but for eye-gleam,
all but one lost when winter drove them away.

Then, they return! Ice-morning, on his palm the male,
his female hovering back, juddering, cocked
peeps of fear, him squinting his blue eye.
His hat swallowed both, settling, as if in his brain.
A silver ribbon, ratty in the end, pennant.
What far flight! Hadn’t they been everywhere together!

But where? A dream. With the moon sliding
past snow’s patches old nests welcome.
Father oaks wailed in wind, monstrous shadows.
Dear little fellow, waking him, he would ask.
Half-closed, black eye blinking until it stopped.
What path? By what water? How to prepare?

The frayed silver flag it bore quickening,
the would-be artist leaned close.
And held his breath, and drew it so.  

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