Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Bobolink

In a meadow  
as wide as a wound 
I thought to stop  
and study the lesser stitchwort’s  
white flowers lacing up  
boot-level grasses 
when I was scolded in song 
by a black and white bird  
whose wings sipped air, 
swallow-like, until he landed  
on the highest tip 
of yellow dock,  
still singing his beautiful warning, 
the brown female  
with him in fear.  
The warning was real: 
the anniversary of my husband’s suicide.  
What was the matter with life? Sometimes 
when wind blows, 
the meadow moves like an ocean, 
and on that day, 
I was in its wake— 
I mean the day in the meadow. 
I mean the day he died.  
This is not another suicide poem. 
This is a poem about a bird 
I wanted to know and so 
I spent that evening looking 
up his feathers and flight,  
spent most of the night 
searching for mating habits  
and how to describe the yellow 
nape of his neck like a bit  
of gothic stained glass, 
or the warm brown 
females with a dark eyeline.  
How could I have known  
like so many species  
they too are endangered? 
God must be exhausted: 
those who chose life; 
those who chose death.  
That day I braided a few 
strips of timothy hay  
as I waited for the pair 
to move again, to lift  
from the field and what,  
live? The dead can take 
a brother, a sister; not really.  
The dead have no one.  
Here in this field  
I worried the mowers 
like giant gorging mouths 
would soon begin again 
and everything would be  
as it will.

Credit


Copyright © 2021 by Didi Jackson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“I wrote this poem the evening after a hike at the Taconic Mountain Ramble State Park’s Japanese Gardens in Hubbardton, Vermont. It was July 13th, the anniversary of my late husband’s suicide. Each year on that day, I prefer to be outside and in nature if possible. As I passed through a yet to be mowed field, I was scolded by several pairs of bobolinks. I realized they were in fear for their nests. Then I worried about the mower I knew would come through any time. Luckily, the University of Vermont has begun an incentive program to encourage New England farmers to delay their second cutting, so the birds have enough time to breed and raise their young.”
Didi Jackson

Author


Didi Jackson

Didi Jackson is the author of Moon Jar (Red Hen Press, 2020).

Date Published: 2021-04-19

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/bobolink