“Bird-Understander” by Craig Arnold

Of many reasons I love you here is one

 

the way you write me from the gate at the airport
so I can tell you everything will be alright

 

so you can tell me there is a bird
trapped in the terminal      all the people
ignoring it       because they do not know
what to do with it       except to leave it alone
until it scares itself to death

 

it makes you terribly terribly sad

 

You wish you could take the bird outside
and set it free or       (failing that)
call a bird-understander
to come help the bird

 

All you can do is notice the bird
and feel for the bird       and write
to tell me how language feels
impossibly useless

 

but you are wrong

 

You are a bird-understander
better than I could ever be
who make so many noises
and call them song

 

These are your own words
your way of noticing
and saying plainly
of not turning away
from hurt

 

you have offered them
to me       I am only
giving them back

 

if only I could show you
how very useless
they are not

 

Craig Arnold, “Bird-Understander”. Copyright 2009 by Craig Arnold, via Poetryfoundation.org.