Preparing for Residential Placement for My Disabled Daughter

My life without you—I have already
seen it. Today, on the salt marsh. 
The red-winged blackbird perched 
in the tallest tree, sage green branches
falling over the water. She sat there
for a long time, doing nothing.
As she lifted up to fly, the slender branch
shook from the release of her weight.
When the bird departed, it seemed
the branch would shake forever
in the wind, bobbing up and down.
When it finally stopped moving,
the branch was diminished,
reaching out to the vast sky.


Copyright © 2023 by Jennifer Franklin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 10, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this short poem during a twelve-day residency in Cape Cod. Because I raised my twenty-two-year-old disabled daughter by myself, this was the first time since graduate school that I had uninterrupted time to write. I woke up at dawn and sat on the deck with my dog and a cup of coffee, watching the abundance of birds—swans, osprey, ducks on the salt marsh. The simple red-winged blackbird provoked this poem. I hope [John] Keats’s negative capability comes across in this sonnet. That the beauty of the scene and the internal conflict of preparing for the hardest thing I will ever do in my life, for my daughter’s own good, comes through. Although she will still see me all the time, nothing will be the same, for either of us, again.”
—Jennifer Franklin