READ A POEM
AT THE BLACK SWAMP BIRD
by Nicole Robinson
OBSERVATORY BANDING STATION
Warblers squirm silent when caught in mist nets
then peck at the hands of the ornithologist
who says, “We shortchange the migration tale.”
He means we leave out the struggle:
lack of stop-over habitat, windmills, buildings,
jaws of a house-cat, and only a small percent of birds
arrive on breeding grounds. And what of our own
migrations? The boxes stacked by walls,
smell of cardboard and sweat, the emptied desk,
our bodies that remind us they’re our only home.
How lonely we are inside them sometimes.
How little we know of them— moments
we look in a mirror as if to study a stranger.
At the Black Swamp Bird Observatory among the leaf-out
of trees, that green, the marsh pressed
against Lake Erie, the ornithologist bands and releases
a blackpoll warbler to the clean back of morning.
It lifts the sky to join a winged stampede
on a journey toward its next temporary home
while we save what we can
of the marsh, of our own tired bodies.
“At the Black Swamp Bird Observatory Banding Station” by Nicole Robinson, from Great River Review. 2017. Used by permission of the author.
’s poems have appeared in Connotation Press
, The Louisville Review
, The Fourth River
and Tahoma Literary Review
. She is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for poetry and is the writer-in-residence at Akron Children’s Hospital. She can be found on Twitter
WRITE A POEM
Former United Stated Poet Laureate Robert Hass has said, “Poets mostly … listen and record what they are hearing or have just heard.” What are you hearing just now? Record it in a poem.