"Nuthatch, a Letter from my Mother"
I try to remember that out the kitchen window
I am not watching birds but chickadees, finches,
and nuthatches at the teetering feeder
scattered by a bustling blue jay
seemingly more intent on scattering
sparrows than eating the seed.
They have a word for small fish.
Perhaps someone should invent
a universal term to accumulate
all the little flecks of flight into a single image.
I enjoy how the birds take turns,
have the pleasure of poor people
who fish the lake, one group catching
while the others watch, then the watchers
catching while the catchers watch.
Today when I was asked about my kids,
the question that makes one important
but diminishes the children, I said
your name, and the sound of it
drew down your distance.
Grown and gone, it is said,
but your name out loud
brings back the child by my side.
Your father recovers from his bypass.
I nurse, nurture, count heartbeats
like a band conductor keeping time.
I remain overwhelmed, but at times
instead of a nameless fury
I can distinguish feathers and feet
and how the pointed beak
of the nuthatch obtains the flax.
About the author
Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California, and works in mental health. He has poems in Rabid Oak, Terrene, The Monarch Review, Homestead Review, and won the 2017 Cold Mountain Review Poetry Prize. Other work can be found at jeff-burt.com.