By Beth Ann Fennelly
We thought the birds were singing louder. We were almost certain they
were. We spoke of this, when we spoke, if we spoke, on our zoom screens
or in the backyard with our podfolk. Dang, you hear those birds? Don’t
they sound loud? We shouted to the neighbor, and from behind her mask
she agreed. The birds are louder this spring. This summer. I’ve never
heard such loud birds. Listen to ’em sing. But the birds aren’t singing
louder. In fact, the opposite. Ornithologists have recorded lowered
decibel levels of bird song. In the absence of noise pollution—our planes
overhead, our cars rushing past with their motors and horns, our bars
leaking music onto the street corners—the birds don’t need to shout.
So why are we hearing birdsong now, when it is quieter? Because we
need it more. Poetry in the pandemic: birdsong that was there all along.
Source: Poetry (July 2021)
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When you caught one to keep,
we took it home and I asked you to teach me.
You showed me how to spike the brain—
I thanked the fish, looked away, pressed down.
We bled it, shaved away the scales,
severed meat from bone.
Here’s an Ocean Tale
My brother still bites his nails to the quick,
but lately he’s been allowing them to grow.
So much hurt is forgotten with the horizon
as backdrop. It comes down to simple math.
The beach belongs to none of us, regardless
of color, or money....
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Listening in Deep Space
We've always been out looking for answers,
telling stories about ourselves,
searching for connection, choosing
to send out Stravinsky and whale song,
which, in translation, might very well be
our undoing instead of a welcome.
We launch satellites, probes, telescopes
unfolding like origami, navigating
geomagnetic storms, major disruptions.
At the Equinox
The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars.
I have no theory of radiance,
but after rain evaporates
off pine needles, the needles glisten.
In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,
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i love you to the moon &
not back, let’s not come back, let’s go by the speed of
queer zest & stay up
there & get ourselves a little
moon cottage (so pretty), then start a moon garden
with lots of moon veggies (so healthy), i mean
i was already moonlighting
Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid
Some women make a pilgrimage to visit it
in the Indiana library charged to keep it safe.
I didn’t drive to it; I dreamed it, the thick braid
roped over my hands, heavier than lead.
My own hair was long for years.
Then I became...