while bending its sensible slide whistle notes
around spruce bark and cone
look again, it sang
and again, for
that the branch of your hand
and the nest of your palm
shelter a hunger
This poem emerged from a question, revealing more wonderings (and chickadees) as it unfolded.
I was trudging through the snowy woods, pondering how to feel less anxious about the strange, virally-induced situation we now live in. I ducked under a spruce and came face to face with a dark-eyed boreal chickadee. For a long moment we stared at each other in a world gone still. Then, after a loud, sing-song alarm call, it flew off in a blur of feathers.
In its wake, my palms began to tingle with an old tactile memory. Many years ago, I stood in the snow beneath another tree, my outstretched hand filled with seeds. Black-capped chickadees flitted between branches over my head, making inquisitive swoops before returning to safety. Encouraged by a friend who’d had success posing as a bird feeder, I kept waiting, my heart pounding with anticipation each time a bird dove closer.
Finally, one landed. I can still recall the feel of quivery feet on my fingers, bright eyes peering at my own, and the rush of air against my face as it plucked a seed from my palm and, in a tiny thunder of wings, was gone.
Returning to myself under the spruce, I rubbed my hands together, savoring the memory of… what was it: connection? A longing, met? Startled, I noticed that I often feel like I’m standing under that tree, waiting with my hand outstretched.
This made me wonder: What am I waiting for? Am I reaching for something, or offering something? And why am I remembering this now, when so much around us feels uncertain?
Well. The chickadee in this poem had something to say about that.