You wake before the birds, during the dark’s slow decay
into the pale light of dawning day. Your mind holds thoughts—
that hold no words, like dreams too-soon forgot.
Outside, a lonesome cry, a beckoning belief
that there is more than silent grief waiting in the silent trees—
an answer ready in a muted sky— an echo on the breeze.
Soon the full choir of bird song lifts your head and sets your feet upon the floor,
impossible to ignore, and sends you to the kitchen where
the fingers of the kettle flame grow long and blue.
You fold your hands, this morning rite a light akin to prayer.
The sun, in slants, illuminates the dust which settles to a fraying rug.
A snake of steam wrestles from a half-full mug riding the heat of aimless wanderlust.
Beside the cup rests the broken spine and sun-bleached pages of a favorite book.
You trace your finger over the lines knowing it is dangerous to look–
to linger on loves so long– on loves true but also gone.
The future makes all raptures new, or so the sages say.
Yet here you sit, this present you, a hand resting where the pages lay
while the past circles to recapture you. “Come,” cry the birds, “Will you fly too?”
Out. It’s time. Get out. Time to walk the forest road,
past where the river overflowed in the year the flood followed years of drought.
Out to where the forest fire cleared, where it scarred the hill and you feared
that it would never be restored. It was not death. Hold that breath. And then…
think of this love and strife, of ruin and reward. The sweet, the salt, the gall: Would you drink the cup again?
Would you take the sugar, leave the sour, or would you swallow whole, regret and all?
There are other flowers yet to flower and leaves remain to rise and fall.
Hold your heart for one more hour; Perhaps the long-forgotten songs will again be sung
and earth itself may be, again, made young. When the birds call, will you fly after all?
This poem was initially written in early 2020.