Story Poems

“Window Frame”—written almost a year before my mother’s death.— appears in the “Homeplace” section of Sightlines. It’s one of my favorites. This last portion of “Window Frame” gives you a portrait of my mother’s devotion to birds—those creatures of the air—even as her eyes and ears dimmed, even as her brain cells betrayed her.

from Window Frame

The cardinals are busy at bird feeders dangling from the Magnolia.
Clear 70-degree days fooled her into budding.

These bird feeders, rigged with pulleys,come in two shapes.
One a long cylinder and the other an urn: like a gift from the Magi.

No gold, frankincense or myrrh here, though.
Just enough seed to coax birds to fly outside Mom’s window.
Both feeders sway under plastic domes to slide off snow and rain.

The bird show is Mother’s main entertainment
while she reclines on her plush throne.

Something that delights her.
The show playing outside the window
links her to a past she no longer remembers.

Technically, that is.
Her mouth can’t form the words to tell of bird trips around the world,
spotting scope slung over her shoulder and binoculars superglued to her hands.

But, she knows. I can see it.
R: “The birds,” she murmurs, and her face lights up.

The sun, higher in the sky now, still a blinding ball in the heavens.
But yellow, not orange.
There’s not much display this morning as it rises above the fog.

Of course we know the sun isn’t really rising.
This phrase is a remnant from when we thought the world was flat.
And if we sailed too far, we’d drop off the edge of the world.

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