Farewell to April

Today we say goodbye to one of the most exciting months of the year for birders along the Gulf Coast. It has been a month filled with a constant stream of migrating birds. Even birders who haven't been able to get out of their own backyards have been in the "catbird seat" of bird viewing this month.

Of course, here at the end of the month, we are getting a little more excitement than we bargained for with the oil spill that threatens the wildlife that we love. But that's a topic for another day. Today I want to talk about poetry.

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? April, also, marks my fourth anniversary as a blogger. I started the Backyard Birder blog for the Houston Chronicle on April 3, 2006. So, today, before I let April go, I want to honor National Poetry Month with a poem and also to mark my blogging anniversary with a poem about one of my favorite backyard birds. Enjoy.

by Mary Oliver

This morning
two mockingbirds
in the green field
were spinning and tossing

the white ribbons
of their songs
into the air.
I had nothing

better to do
than listen.
I mean this

In Greece,
a long time ago,
an old couple
opened their door

to two strangers
who were,
it soon appeared,
not men at all,

but gods.
It is my favorite story--
how the old couple
had almost nothing to give

but their willingness
to be attentive--
but for this alone
the gods loved them

and blessed them--
when they rose
out of their mortal bodies,
like a million particles of water

from a fountain,
the light
swept into all the corners
of the cottage,

and the old couple,
shaken with understanding,
bowed down--
but still they asked for nothing

but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished,
clapping their great wings.

Wherever it was
I was supposed to be
this morning--
whatever it was I said

I would be doing--
I was standing
at the edge of the field--
I was hurrying

through my own soul,
opening its dark doors--
I was leaning out;
I was listening.

(Thanks to Susan of Well-Mannered Frivolity for bringing this poem to my attention as one of her 30 poems of the day in April.)


  1. Beautiful poem. And pictures. And I particularly enjoyed your comments on the state of the nation. One reminded me of famous comment by Senatore Hruska of Nebraska who said in reference to an incompetent Supreme Court nominee..."well mediocre people need to be represented too." How sad.

  2. A very cogent comment from Senator Hruska. Unfortunately, it seems that the mediocre are often over-represented - or maybe they just yell louder.


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