Bird Banding

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

On the phone she’ll tell me stories
about shorebirds
which breed in warmer marshland
winters and still cross
the continent by spring. Uncertain
sharing of the beaches where
the sea breathes with our
human feet. Tiny
islets wait in mouths
of open bays
, she’ll say.

Outside the hospital I’m circling
the pine trees with a certain
pattern, telling in return.
Words which lose
their meanings, great
silence inside spaces
in the skull where syntax
lingers. Still semantics
flies, south like willets in
the winter. Waiting

grounds between that loss
and here; different doctors track
the same losses over
miles of beaches.
Each stilt must need
a dozen resting places; each
journey underpinned
by a few key secret
spaces. In us, each migrant
thought departs

for warmer beaches, bright
atolls which distance must
constantly come between. Calmly
distant from the sand
she sang of, I swear I saw the place
she spoke of, the lights or
waves that Wallace and the sandpipers
knew. And in that absolute
perplexity there was
a stopover. A warmer
place to wait.