Behold the birds of the air…St. Matthew
You and I roam the small alcoves
of a rural nature museum. Among the bones
of elk and pronghorns, I come to a case
of bird nests, small bowls of interlaced twigs
and I bend to read each placard to learn
the materials of their construction.
It’s so easy to be envious of the birds.
They scavenge from nature, turn twisted and
contorted sticks into art: catkinned hazel, wild
willow, bog myrtle, larch, wisps of purple heather,
the pliant shoots of birch. Frugal and fragile
shelters of beauty. How is it
that our love has become such a fragile shelter?
How is it that we keep finding new ways
to hurt each other, why does it keep surprising me?
Your words from this morning still rankle and yet,
I know you’ve forgotten, the syllables slipped away
like Tuscan rain running into ancient gullies.
You let go so easily and I seem to collect
those conjugal shards as if I am amassing
a list of your cruelties. I can’t let go
of that June afternoon when we shared caramel fig
gelato on the steep steps of Palazzo del Capitano
and above us whistling swifts swooped and fed
on mosquitoes. The locals called the birds
rondoni and you and I kept saying the word because
it tasted so good to us. It was easy to be in love there,
the air sweetened with birds, the piazza lively
with children in leotards and dance slippers. Even
the language of the everyday sounded beautiful.
Rondoni. I want to lure you away
from the display of arrows you’re studying so closely.
I want to say, Look at this nest, layered with reindeer moss.
I want to remind you how easy love was in a foreign country,
want to ask if you know those swifts we once admired
pair for life, that they meet beneath eaves
every spring at their nest
made of hay and straw and seeds and paper
to renovate and rebuild together.
Gail Braune Comorat is a founding member of Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild and the author of Phases of the Moon (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Grist, Mudfish, Philadelphia Stories, and The Widows’ Handbook. She’s a long-time member of several writing groups in Lewes, Delaware.