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Posted by on Jul 3, 2009 in Arts & Entertainment | 5 comments

For Those Lost To Us In These Last Many Days


How can you have died? No, no. ‘Tooo young, tooo young,’
hoot the owls in the night pines…
How can you have died with your wings spread out
so beautifully,
two little silver-gray fans with vanes perfectly aligned,
literally zipped shut so as to make your feathers air-tight,
impervious to being split by wind…
All so you could fly. So you could sing. And fly.

Weren’t you meant to remain airborne little dear one?
I can see you fledged from the two-hundred year old
cottonwood overhead, some branch way up high…
Did your species build the nest too far up?
Are there mean old birds who stalk
about the cottonwood castles like mad Medeas
bent on butchering/ murdering the children?
Are there wicked stepbrothers who try to make all death
look like an accident?

Or did you, like smallest Ikaros, just push your luck,
so excited to be alive, so eager to do what you saw
grown-ups do, you just rushed to the edge
before you were strong enough to sustain your weight,
and your tiny body of near mere feathers alone…
plunged …
fell down down down instead
of pulling back on the little stick near your heart
til you hit the scoop of the updraught…
til you caught the wind-ladder upward
…later returning to the nest all cocky and proud.

Instead little dear thing, you lie here in the road,
like thin silverware tossed into a pile
yet the scrollwork, the filigree, the parabolas
of your bones, your meant-to-fly feathers
still somehow, so filled with life.

How can this be… Isn’t dead, dead?
Or is some huge soulfulness released in death,
that does good works in corporeal worlds yet?

I bend, I take you little thing, lift your scrawny legs,
Put the palm of my hand behind your head.
I move you, to the grass, away from black tires,
just to a quiet soft place where belly up,
you can sprawl and smile
and see the stars…

I walk across the road to home,
gently brushing tiny bugs from my hands…
creatures who know to come dressed
in their little black mourning suits,
the infinitesimal pall-bearers who
take the dead down into humus at last.

Two snows, two springs from now,
some weed, wild vine, some accidental
tree, all not yet born now… will grow here.
Whatever falls into this earth
made fertile by your life dear one,
will live on as juniper, pine, catalpa,
chokecherry, sweet pea, nopalito…
and as the old people say,
will have a soul twice-born —
part wild green and growing–
and part essential small raptor
who was born with such courage for soaring.


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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • JSpencer

    Dr E. I see this drama unfold almost every summer, but have never seen it described so wonderfully. Thank-you.

    ~ Joe

  • DdW

    Wow! Beautiful, dr e.

    Especially since, just a few days ago, for days we worried about the survival of four little baby birds, whose mother had made a nest in a planter on our back porch…they all made it, as far as we know

    Thank you!

  • Ghostdreams

    In reading your poem Doc…
    I remembered last summer letting my two woofys out in the backyard.
    A few minutes later, I heard my two woofers speaking loudly, in the “wild dialect” of their youth, the one rarely spoken now, these 10 years later.
    Then I heard the agony ..Screaming.
    I rushed to my backyard thinking that someone in the alley, some woman, had been beaten horribly (from the sound of it)..
    Her scream carried over the bushes and trees and through the walls, all the way into the quiet of my hidden hermitage.
    And it didn’t ebb off.. No, it became louder and louder…As my boots pounded, running through the yard …
    And there, at the very edge of my yard I found my “Screamer” looking down in sheer terror and misery …
    The mother squirrel was up on a branch looking over her dead child killed by my woofs.
    I wept and begged her forgiveness, all the while she, the Mother, screaming in mourning.
    My mother’s people call it “keening.”
    She was mourning. I knew what I was witness to, and I also knew my part in it …
    Afterwards, I spent months going through online sites, viewing information and science and local reports on what we know of the Bushytail tribes who live out here in Lincoln, trying to figure out what occurrence had transpired that such a small baby Bushy could have fallen into my yard..
    Too many humans and not enough trees with adequate housing for these bushytails lead them to make insecure leaf nexts and whereas, usually this is adequate, with two large, lively predators living underneath her “home” ..If one of her children makes a mistake in their newly learned climbing skills, the end is a foregone conclusion.
    Many times there is not enough food as well and this will lead the very young into a very unsafe yard.
    The push back of human habitation on our Bushytails led to this terrible day last summer.
    That sacred screaming voice of a mother mourning her dead infant stayed with me all through the winter into spring and carried itself message even into my dreamworld, turning such dreams into dark, tragic nightmares…Until the day I built that mother a “Den” and mounted it up on a tree outside my backyard where my woofys cannot access it, then, put up a food feeder for little bushytails and for pregnant bushytails, not far from where I mounted the Mothers new home.
    Now I spend my mornings preparing breakfast for numerous “peoples.” Kibble and meat for woofys, corn and raisins for Bushytailed peoples, and wildbird seed to help the two pairs of nesting Cardinals I have in the front of my yard. I was going to extend my efforts for a few other types of wildlife but I found it unnecessary due to what I observed not long after being to feed the bushytails and bird folks… I witnessed a most amazing thing happening over at the Bushytail food stand.
    As the Bushytail eats, she eats the “meat” inside the corn and discards the husk of the dried corn (making many, many blackbirds very happy) but ..also ..
    One very early morning, I peeked out and saw, fully, the Bushytail, pulling the dried corn off of the cob and then leaning down and giving some of it (she had not eaten it at all) to a very pregnant rabbit!
    At first I thought I was hallucinating …But it’s happened so many times now that I have realized the truth of it …
    That bunny was pregnant and the new neighbors up front had mowed down her daffodils and other such things that she can eat. Due to this, initially she was getting very thin. I was actually beginning to worried for her unborn young…
    Apparently, I wasn’t the only one watching because about the time I noticed it, the Bushytail began “sharing” her food with her “fellow.” I have actually seen the Bushytail running all the way down the tree and put corn right at the feet of the rabbit, apparently to insure that the pregnant rabbit gets her fill.
    I point to this as one of my many proofs that the masters instruction regarding “love your neighbor as you love yourself” was heard by all nations, not only the two leggeds but others…
    Either that or those “Teachings” come intact already in some of our neighboring species, eh?

    Thank you for such a beautiful poem Doc!

  • archangel

    and ghost, thank you so much for yours about your sacred menagerie.

    and Doriancito, that they lived…. that.

    and JWest, that you see. So good.

    And for readers, this storypoem was wanting to be about people who have left early in the past many days on our earth, and the little raptor I found on the road was the entry point for saying some words about death come too soon. Read again and see if you can see this too. Think of any of our soldiers who have passed, our musicians, little children left in the heat of the car in parking lots, children shot as they waited for the bus, our knowing of those innocents from other nations who have been killed, those who were trying to soar on the rooftops of Tehran to be free… all wanted to soar

    and the little raptor too

    just my humble two cents.


  • beautiful Dr. E. . . so many times i have seen storms bring down the vulnerable baby birds to the hard ground, i cry. . .for years the young fledglings without full feathers have been the link that opened the heart to the “little people”. . .ones i carry on my back and in the heart from Africa and Mexico that will never be known by the greater world for the songs they once sung, but poverty brought disease and death. . .I have known some powerful Saints in the world but never have i know a being that emitted as much love as Chuey a little orphan from Mexico that had the most crooked little body with frequent seizures. . .every second of his too short life was a transmission of love and he died because there was not money or priority for his needed seizure medication. . .i know Chuey is still soaring. . .and i am still with tears. . .

    i love you Dr. E. for seeing the little birds. . .thanks for writing of them. . .with and without feathers. . .

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