Monday, January 02, 2023

Poem: Cardinal

Starting off 2023 with my mom in the hospital, recovering from surgery to replace her artificial knee and the part of her leg above it that broke as she was going out to dinner two days after Christmas. Here's a poem that popped into my head yesterday. As I was leaving the house to go to the hospital a cardinal flashed by, and I remembered the folklore taught to me by a friend. This is a first draft.


They say when you see a cardinal

it is actually the spirit of a dead relative

come to tell you that they are in Heaven

and are happy

I must be very blessed

for I see cardinals all the time

buff-brown females with orange beaks

males just a shade darker than crimson

singing their song: "Pray for PEACE, pray for PEACE"

I don't know birdsongs

not like my birder friends do

I know one, from when I was a child, a long, complex song

I could sing it today

birds live many years, something I just learned recently

I have not heard this particular song in a very long time

so maybe each time I heard it it was the same bird

year after year, singing it for me

until it died of old age

or in the talons of a hawk

or the mouth of a cat

and now its song lives only in my memory

I could sing it today

Were the birds named for the clerics in their red vestments, I wonder

or were the clerics named for the birds?

I could find the answer in seconds, I suppose

but for now, I choose not to