Felt & Fabric, Poetry, Writing

For the Nighthawks

I often cry while listening to the news during the pandemic. The news, not new, of horrible murder and racism in the United States, not unique to that place, of old people dying in squalid long-term non-care homes in my province, of the poor, the discarded dying more often than the comfortable.

So far, I and my husband are in good physical health. I walk in the neighbourhood, coming down out of the high-rise we live in to the ground, to streets of old and young trees and houses with gardens, to the lilacs, the robins and cardinals, to the redbud petals raining on me in the wind in a nearby park on the weekend.

Before the virus, before the protests, the demonstrations around the world, before the mad dictator with his cruel mouth and willful blindfold, I was thinking of other losses. I gathered this poem I wrote years ago, added a few words and gathered a small stuffed bird-like creature I made of handmade felt, also a few years old. Here they are.

For the Nighthawks

Dusk, a week before the solstice:

a cool summer night.

I walk home from the subway

taking the residential avenue

off the busy one.

It’s slower here

birds are singing

and the trees are full leaved.

***

I could walk forever on such a sweet night.

On such a night 

I remember the nighthawks from other summers,

I’d hear their cries

swooping low over the back lane

when the door to the tiny balcony

and all the windows were open.

***

I miss those birds.

It disturbs me that I didn’t notice their absence

until years after they were gone,

the echo of their accompaniment

suddenly returning,

shaming me in my inattentiveness.

Where are they now, I wonder?

Though they haven’t gone extinct,

their lives are threatened 

by us

with the plummeting loss of flying insects,

their food,

leaving empty corridors in the air.

***

Tonight I hear songbirds as I walk.

I cannot name them

nor tell them how they soothe the heart

on this plain summer night,

reminding me of what is good in life,

and of their relatives

who no longer pierce the city air.

Lily S. May June 17/12 – June 4/20

4 thoughts on “For the Nighthawks”

  1. Your thoughts are straight from the heart. My wife did not allow me to displace the pigeons who had decided to live in our terrace while we were away. Soon, they just stopped making things dirty.
    Your posts touches deeply. excellent

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