NR Digital


by Daniel Mark Epstein


You rise from dry meadowgrass
          With a laborious flutter, more
Wing-action than the shortness of your flight
           Would seem to call for

And so it seems obvious
           Flying for you is a steep effort
Nature exacts, though not without amends,
           Bobolink, reedbird;

The wiry tones of your song
           Set forth a waltz in clear whistles
At first, so well-sustained! But then you break
           Down the bars, stampede

Your notes into a reckless
           Song fantasia piped at lightning speed
No one can follow — not the barn swallow
           Who soars with such grace,

Not the bird-watcher stalking
           The field, not blind Tom with all his skill
At sound-catching, his passion for filling
           Darkness with music.

Ricebird, reedbird, bobolink,
           Your song is the strained apology
For all of the weak-winged, condemned to sing,
           Because we cannot fly.

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