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Memory, A Small Brown Bird

ISSUE:  Spring 1980
From the balcony you watched her walking
among fallen masonry on the hillside,
golden dust-light of autumn sprawled at your feet,
a small brown bird cooing in the hazelbush.

The wooden floor of your room leaned
to the window where you first saw her
with two brown dogs,
asleep in the dry fountain.

Use your imagination. Take her
to England. Let her sit with gentlemen
in the parlor discussing birds,
sipping the soft red glow of the best years.

Walk with her on Sundays. Stand quietly watching
a small group of nuns talking softly by the dock,
a flight of teal wheeling out over the lake.
Help her imagine swans
gliding under a wooden bridge,
the moss-covered stones, the wood
and coconut smell of chestnuts
cracking under foot.

Don’t tell her about your past.
It will mean nothing unless her own
grew choices. Memories select themselves.
Teach her to choose the future.

And from the rooms of the sad orphans, watch
as the quiet stranger who has finally reached you
turns to look back at his daughter.
There is no one to keep her from leaving.


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