Birds

A new poem

by Rebecca Lindenberg
My sister bought her husband a “Show Chickens of the World” calendar from the dollar
bin at Barnes & Noble. Now he calls her his Frizzle, after a bird whose baroque explosion
of blond feathers somewhat resembles my sister’s morning hair.

Crow sits on a curb, watches for a car to crack the nut it left there. He’s a clever devil, with
shiny black snaps for eyes.

Red-Winged Blackbird. Snowy Egret. Grackle. Kite. Kingfisher. Quail.

Lapwing. Swift. Titmouse. Kestrel. Long, elegant Heron, with hero in your name. Soft-
Throated Plover. Wicked little Wren.

We hear words in birdcalls. The American Goldfinch says, “Potato chip!” and the Ovenbird
pleads, “Teacher! Teacher!” and the Ash-Throated Flycatcher croons, “Tea for two.” The
Eastern Meadowlark bids, “See you! See you!” Which just goes to show how words can
take an expression of the soul and make it common.

I try to write about a cartoon roadrunner. But an anvil falls on the page and leaves a giant
and precisely anvil-shaped hole where the words were supposed to go.

Rebecca Lindenberg is the author of Love, an Index (McSweeney’s, 2012) and The Logan Notebooks (Center for Literary Publishing, 2014). She holds a PhD in English from the University of Utah, and currently resides in Berlin on the Amy Lowell Scholarship.

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