The Answers Are Nuthatch, Kingbird, Death
Susan Blackwell Ramsey

The Answers Are Nuthatch, Kingbird, Death

Realizing she was interested in birds
hit Gail like finding a liver spot on her hand.
Old people care about birds. What next, a rain gauge?
She was furious. And she was right.

Youth and beauty have better things to do
than squint at sparrows (field? song? rufous? chipping?)
Their own display behaviors, so vivid, thrilling,
require their full attention. Most survive.

But we slow, our focus widens, we sit still
and something catches and drags our eye. What bird
spirals its way down a tree headfirst?
Was that speck actually chasing, attacking a crow?

And what landed on her feeder yesterday,
scattering small fry, looming on the roof,
speckled breast, cap like a bad black toupee,
mad gold eyes, something limp in its claws?

Susan Blackwell Ramsey

is the author of A Mind Like This, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize. Her work has recently appeared in The Southern Review, 32 Poems, and Waxwing.