Gary L. McDowell
Ninth Morning in a Row with Binoculars
I’m in my truck, 1-94, 1-80—they’re all the same—
when a spring robin flies into my cabin, knocks
off the rearview mirror and falls onto the passenger
seat, shocked, out cold, its caramel feet docile
against its chest. I, too, am breathless, unsure
whether to pull over or throw the robin out
the window before it wakes. How does one
resuscitate a bird? How does one know when
to resuscitate a bird? Two nights ago the weatherman
said spring is finally here, said fire up those grills, folks,
it’s bratwurst time! What an odd thing to say.
Every morning a cardinal whistles from the heavy
pine outside my bedroom, his trills enough
to stir my dogs who know now the sun has risen.
I sip coffee on the porch and watch the cardinal
tease his mate, his black face, his crest, how he shares
seeds by kissing her beak: he perches on a fence post,
harmonizes with her, phrases with her: their banter.
Behind the house, cars race by on US-131, the whoosh
of semis, their long haul beginning or nearly ending,
and I remember baseball scores from the radio
the night before: Chicago dismantles Houston, 9–3,
and the Pirates blow a late lead, fall 8–6 to the Fins. So final.
The everyday becomes more everyday every day,
yet still I wish I could cup that robin
in my palms and breathe life back into him, but this spring
is its last, and lying on my passenger seat is the face
I fear most, the face I’ve never touched but that I must
touch to make authentic, to make other than silent.
It’s asking too much to bring back the fallen:
our hands are busy enough predicting the weather,
busy enough flipping through radio stations to find
the ballgame, to find a voice that’ll tell us good pitching
will beat good hitting any time, and vice versa.