BIRDING AT HUMMEL PARK
For Jack Collom
We leaned against the car in fog,
silent, because so much else was singing.
One sandy wooded area we trailed a Stinsonís Warbler
we heard, but never saw.
Jack knew its voice, better than I know my own.
What intensity can you bring to your own life?
If we were to die, hit here on this asphalt
as we cross to higher woods, weíd die with birds singing.
Thatís what took the two of us to the top of the mangled hill
where pop cans and paper plates
litter a picnic ground, as though earth
were a giant garbage can stuffed
with our fellowsí trash, smashed open.
This park where two years ago
after they raped her because she was black
two white men cut off a girlís head.
I didnít tell that to Jack.
No matter the rusted hulk of some former monument
or structure we canít identify
that looms out of the fog like the wreck of the world,
no matter the floodplains crushed
under the weight of corn fields far below us
where Great Blue Herons once nested--
an Eastern Bluebird came to us.
In the clearing by the garbage, by the wreckage
of what has become our country, it darted from tree
to dying tree, was joined
by two others, breasts red as ketchup
dried on those plates, wings blue
as skies we now sometimes have to imagine.
We stood still so they thought our lives
did not matter to them, and they flew before us
through the clearing, to the edge
where the deeper forest of scrub trees
creeps down hills toward stands of oak,
and back again. Still long enough,
they may have forgotten these odd, breathing trees,
black circles shining in their branches.
Abruptly the bluebirds left.
What had we lost?
Something had been given to us.
Out of the mist, a light rain began to fall.
We walked back downhill to our waiting car.
Greg Kosmicki is a poet and social worker living in Omaha, Nebraska. He founded The Backwaters Press in 1997 which he edits and publishes. His poetry has been published in numerous magazines since 1975, both print and online, including Briarcliff Review, Chiron Review, Connecticut Review, Cortland Review, New Letters, Nimrod, Paris Review, and Poetry East. He received artistís fellowships for his poetry from the Nebraska Arts Council 2000 and 2006. He is the author of three books and 8 chapbooks of poems. Two of the poems from his book from Word Press, Some Hero of the Past, and one poem from his newest chapbook from Pudding House Publications, New Route in the Dream, have been selected by Garrison Keillor and read by him on The Writer's Almanac. Marigolds, his seventh chapbook of poems, was recently published by Black Star Press.