Visiting My Aunt


Try to remember all of the birds
You’ve heard but didn’t see.
This is called grace.
— Jim Harrison

The forecaster said 80% chance of rain
this morning, but the clouds to the east
have thinned, revealing the sky pale blue.
On a rooftop two houses away a starling
perches facing south and flaps its wings
in a burst of applause, then stretches tip-toe
and flies. Mid-morning lull — no scramble
at the feeder, wind on a moment’s
holiday, the prayer flags next door pause.
Now the lawn mower has stopped. Mutter
of voices outside, cars shushing by, flip
of pages as my aunt reads. A rattling call
rises from the apple tree’s small leaves,
a warble falls from high in the firs.
The invisible bird I’ve been listening to
for days, its four-note piping unfamiliar,
sings somewhere across the street.
The morning is going on — the fridge too.
One day slides into another, sunshine
dissolving clouds which reassemble
overnight, and a whole week has drifted
past in birdsong and silences. Like
the tide going out, then coming in again.

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