Bird Song – Kirsten Pike

At dawn native birds chatter in rises and falls I can’t decipher–
They tell me it’s snowy-browed flycatcher,
blyth’s tragopan, laughing thrush,
white-browed shrike babbler,
grey-headed woodpecker country.
The rhesus are awake, too: babies coo,
their encyclopedia of simian sounds still strange to me
they cling to mother-bellies and
trust her jumps from trunk to branch
–chir pine, himalayan oak, deodar–
tree limbs thrashing in protest.
Your air is thick with slatey water
The sky is soupy dark. My skin knows that dark.
Maples hold their leaves, full and green they palm the black.
Raccoons paw with human-like hands at latched trash cans.
Squirrels sleep curled around themselves like fat cinnamon rolls.
On your side of earth,
today’s my yesterday.
You’ll sleep to wake to where I’ve been.
I’ve left holes.
made my coming an annual migration,
made the growing of my babies
a time lapse in fast forward,
made them into strangers for you.
We grow old apart.
I blame these restless feet
some urge to feel alive at the newness of it all
until I wrestle foreign to routine
and start to dream again of soft green hills
lakes shaped like slender fingers
fields of grasses that whisper and kiss kneecaps
and american goldfinch, red-winged blackbird
black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse
white-breasted nuthatch.
Songs I’ve heard a thousand times before