July prayer to survive the summer

Today was the first day I saw
the father of the chicks
come to the antlers—First,

he landed on the doorframe—looked at me
hard—before making the short flight
to nest—

The mother came busily on his tail-feathers—
a small grey worm in her beak—
ushered him out of her way—


I wonder about the day
these birds will first
take flight—

which instincts they’ll suspend
& which they’ll trust—which of the tiny birds
will last the Fall—


I am ahead of myself again—wanted
to tell you about instincts—how sometimes
they betray the body—no, sometimes
I betray the body—


The father is back again—nothing in his beak.
Their chirps are so much louder today—almost like tiny bells,
or water spilling—



Here, there is a father.
There are not always

but always, birds,
& sometimes, yes,

a window.


My mind flips to a line
I love: You can fall a long way in sunlight.
You can fall a long way in rain.

From Little Mercy by Robin Walter. Copyright © 2024 by Robin Walter. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of Graywolf Press.