Bio Note: Earlier this month VV's editor Jim Lewis had a hopeful dream about a hummingbird which he shared with a few people. Poet Robert Knox and I followed up writing a collaborative poem "The Thing With Feathers" to thank Jim for his work on Verse Virtual. I spend many winter hours watching birds. The second poem is my own. My new chapbook, poetry about my love of horses, Let's Hear It for the Horses comes out February 1. More on this chapbook at thepoetrybox.com/bookstore/horses.
The Thing With Feathers
flies in with a message held inside a wind that ruffles the bamboo window blinds.
Thunderbird squawk or owl monosyllables about who is cooking.
Who is cooking bloodberries that only birds can eat. Who ripped down the pea crop, late bloomers, tangled the vines. Who. We said who. We repeated who.
Who does the vulture seek?
That thing with feathers is seldom where you look first. Ventriloquists. Around the corner, next tree. My grandson mimics the chickadee perfectly.
A dee dee dee.
Who did he listen to?
Mourning dove and melancholy. Gray feathers on a bird that lumbers
from telephone wires to beneath the feeder.
Small head on the dove. Make of the message what you will.
Count spots and uncertain skies to play at necromancy.
Drones with wires for feathers. To guide the bomb.
Better to look at the canopy of trees you can’t otherwise see.
Or visit the red tail hawk on the side of the apartment building.
You just don’t know who is there
when we’re so far afield from the hummingbird who came in a dream.
Who fled south for the winter.
Everyone says this little bird’s visit was a good thing.
An end to the worst. A beginning of greatness.
A ray carved out of sun brings hope’s curiosity to your face.
Trust glimmers. Muscle keeps hummers lifted.
A collaborative poem with Robert Knox
Last Night I Learned to Fly
First I sucked clouds and practiced feinting to stay out of the way of bats who stayed out of the way of me. Could I learn to paint, make landscapes into patchwork rag quilts of alfalfa fields, dairy farms, vineyards, and parking lots? I lost my way in the flicker of quaking aspens, little gossips by the river, because learning how to leap up did not mean I knew how to be good at staying up. I wanted to save a sucker fish from an osprey but was afraid of power poles. I would not eat mosquitoes, could not dance the ballet of winds with redtails. I was an LBJ – little brown job with a common repeating song. I built a nest high on the hospital window ledge. A grandmother saw me, nodded. I was with her when she died and a nurse opened the window to let her out. That was all I wanted.
©2022 Tricia Knoll
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to say what it is about the poem you like. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL