The Carolina Wren
I noticed the mockingbirds first,
not for their call but the broad white bands,
like reverse mourning bands on gunmetal
gray, exposed during flight
then tucked into their chests. A thing
seen once, then everywhere—
the top of the gazebo, the little cracked statue,
along the barbed fence. Noticed because
I know first with my eyes, then followed
their several songs braiding the trees.
Only later, this other, same-same-again song,
a bird I could not see but heard
when I walked from the house to the studio,
studio to the house, its three notes
repeated like a child’s up and down
on a trampoline looping
the ground to the sky—
When I remember being a child like this
I think I wouldn’t mind living alone
on a mountain, stilled into the daily
which isn’t stillness at all but a whirring
gone deep. The composer shows how
the hands, palms down, thumb to thumb
and forefinger to mirrored finger, make
a shape like a cone, a honeybee hive, and then
how that cone moves across the piano—
notes in groups fluttering fast back-and-forth
and it sounds difficult but it isn’t
really, how the hand likes to hover each patch
of sound. Likes gesture. To hold. Listening
is like this. How it took me a week to hear
the ever-there wren. And the bees
are like this, intent on their nectar,
their waggle dance better than any GPS.
A threatened thing. A no-one-knows-why.
But the wrens’ invisible looping their loop—
And I, for a moment, pinned to the ground.
Pinned and spinning in the sound of it.
Copyright © 2015 by Laura Donnelly. Used with permission of the author.
About this Poem
“The poet Marianne Boruch writes, ‘the critic Harvey Gross has suggested that any repeated business is a “voiced pause,” a trick in a way, a method of claiming silence while not being silent at all.’ I’m intrigued by this notion of song and silence at once, the way it translates across music, nature, the daily walk to work and back.”
Laura Donnelly is the author of Watershed (Cider Press Review, 2014). She teaches at SUNY Oswego and lives in Oswego, New York.
Date Published: 2015-03-25
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/carolina-wren