Still Life with Woman and Birds
(for my mother)
She talks to the birds. In twos and threes they come
for seeds scattered below her windowsill, for
small cups she fills with water
every day. In a chair she watches as they break
back and forth, a blur of glistening
blacks and browns, yellow beaks,
shooting down to grab, squabble, fly away.
She talks to the birds from her chair in the kitchen
until the ground is empty, the water gone.
The telephone is in my kitchen. She tells me
how surprised she was today, a cardinal
flew straight at her! Its shoulders
slick with the air.
It was that close.
In her dreams they come on silent flight.
She feels the wind fluttering as they pass
in the dim light overhead.
They are hungry.
She tosses seed into the air. Birds swoop
with mouths open, again and again,
but still they are hungry.
She feeds them, feeds them
until her arm aches, she wants to lie down.
She is tired, tired.
The hum of working wings fades.
Softly, quietly they settle in a circle
around her. Gathering on the ground
they lay their wings down,
surrounding her with sleep.
Debra Revere is a Research Scientist and Clinical Faculty working in the field of biomedical and public health informatics at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. She is widely published in her field in which her research focuses on understanding the information needs of public health. Debra has been writing poetry since she was 9 years old. Her first poem was published in the Lawrenceville Elementary School newspaper, an ode to the Easter Bunny. This is her second published poem.