As a young girl you fed birds,
imagining their beaks against the crisp bells
in your own palms.
The humming birds are the freest, dipping in sugar water
and hovering just long enough for the sun to flash on their
fat tummies, too heavy for a thing so small.
The doves drop companionably into the food dish
swinging like eager babies
until they are driven away by finches.
You watch the swallows tow a “v” across the sky
and wonder at the beating of wings. Yesterday,
your arms were so light, boneless,
outstretched against a ripple of hills and marsh waters.
It’s not so easy keeping the neighbors away
or the gardens with four corners
or cats from prowling below the feeders.
There are fewer birds now, fewer nests
in the spidery leaves of the eucalyptus.
Bucket in hand, you watch
for the black and white cat, and think
as the water splashes his face
your hands are too heavy now, too still.
Sometimes the cat does manage to leap
and descend with flailing wings, then
curl his tail like a coat hanger
and press his sleek back against your legs,
proud of the bird on the porch, proud of the wings
folded against the body and the eyes pressed shut
against the faintest fleck of water.
Robin Dawn Hudechek
(previously published in So Luminous the Wildflowers: An Anthology of California Poets)