Housing the Blue Bird « Back

I want to help but there is nothing to do.


I wake up when Dad leaves
in his loud diesel truck to drink coffee
with men from town. He goes out to see daylight.
Daylight is still there. I can see her
with her finches, robins, and towhees.
Sometimes she brings her doves.
They carry the light gently to the ocean.
I make coffee in an old percolator
and wait for Mom to rise.


Mom can’t go out by herself now.
She doesn’t feel confident, she falls
can't get up. She can’t sew
the feathers on birds
the buttons on children’s coats
or put the backs on the earrings.
She doesn’t cry or weep.
Sometimes sadness gets out
gently tearing at the corner of her eye
or making a sad frail sound.
She tries to hide the awfulness
but she fails. With help, she walks
to the bench on the hill so she can see the sea
lions and feel the wind on her face
watch the waves. This wave
grabbed her hard and is pulling her in.


My father loves my mother. I know.
I hear it in the way he says her name,
says your mother. As long as I remember,
he has always loved her. I know he will
stay with her even though there is nothing
to do but wait for her to stop breathing
and soar like the bright birds she loves.
He takes her to the beach and for drives.
I look out and see what she sees with
eyes bright and intelligent, able to tell small
brown bird from small brown bird
sparrow from sparrow
bluebird Eastern from Western.


Before I leave, I dream I am on a porch.
It smells like the softness of babies feet.
I hear laughter like in a smoky bar with
men handsome as my father years ago.
It is as beautiful as Thomas Moran’s
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
When mothers die, they go there before
we build houses for them with tiny holes
for doors 1 and 6/8 inches round and
they come in away from sparrows
and starlings.


No woman was closer to daylight.
No woman was closer to Dad.
No woman is closer to a blue bird.
No woman was closer to a saint.
If there was ever one.