Makeshift Ornithology

Dayna Patterson


When the bird slammed its portly body into the glass,
wanting to perch on a branch of the artificial pine
sunning in the bay window, the knock shattered
your concentration, bent as you were over a notebook,

jotting down the skimmings of your first novel.
You and your dad found the hermit thrush belly up,
splayed on the deck. Dazed, you watched,
crouched down with your dad as dazed, the bird remained,

blinking, scratching the air with its twiggy
black feet. Dying, you thought. Its grey head stilled.
Its lightly spotted chest fluttered. Daughter, now is
as good a time as any to tell you.

Now, as you recount how the bird lurched,
paused a few minutes more before escaping
the sentinel of your gaze, hopping to a nearby
hedge. My girl, as you edge closer to teenagehood,

I’m installing fritted glass, hanging tinsel from the eaves.
What are the appropriate collective nouns
for this situation? A fledge of worries? 
I’m pointing out the spiny-toothed leaves of holly trees, 
sifting fingers through your flight of feather-soft hair.


Dayna Patterson is a former managing editor of Bellingham Review, the founding editor-in-chief of Psaltery & Lyre, and the poetry editor for Exponent II Magazine. She is a co-editor (with Tyler Chadwick and Martin Pulido) of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry (Peculiar Pages, 2018). Her poetry has appeared recently in Hotel Amerika, So to Speak, Western Humanities Review, and Zone 3.

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