Poetry with Wings

There was a poetry reading yesterday at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill entitled Poetry with Wings. As part of the Garden’s Saving Our Birds programming initiative this Fall, five local poets were invited to read poems that touch on birds in some way  It was a wonderful event with a wide range of poetry and presentation. Melissa was one of the poets and presented ten of her works. From time to time, I will share one of her poems, along with some accompanying photos. Here is one of my favorites from yesterday’s reading…

porch viewThe View From My Porch

by Melissa Dowland

When did we forget how to be kind to other another?
When did we stop listening
to all but our own voices
and those shouting the same things?
When did we start judging others so closely
that we forgot that we all learn
by making mistakes?
When did we allow fear to become the driving force
behind our decisions
as individuals, and as a culture?

_-12The male woodpecker
just fluffed his black-and-white feathers
and, head down,
drove the female
from her perch.

_-204Then the blue jay swooped in,
loud and raucous
with his threatening hawk-mimic call
and drove even the bossy woodpecker

Eastern Wood PeeweeThe wood-pewee sits still on a branch,
watching and waiting.
Then dashes to a flower
and seizes a brilliant yellow
that was, a moment ago,
floating on a slow current of air.
With a quick shake and gulp
the butterfly is gone.

hummingbird threat display with another bird in viewFour hummingbirds zip about
in constant motion, wings an emerald blur.
With a clatter, two collide,
then zoom apart, unhurt.
They are so keen on protecting
their spot at the feeder
that none can stop to drink.

box turtleA box turtle slowly moves
through the strawberry patch,
her nails shuffling the soil,
the soft leather of her legs and neck
contracting with each movement
her head outstretched,
seemingly unafraid
though the cleft in her shell,
just above the neck,
should give her cause to behave otherwise.

I often write about my deep desire
to step away from my humanity
and connect with the natural rhythms,
to live in tune with the natural world.

But maybe, it is our humanity
that we truly need.
Maybe our humanity allows us
to experience the joy
of watching a box turtle
and see the harsh beauty
in the instinctual behavior of a bird.
Maybe our humanity is what allows us to be kind.

Maybe, my desire is,
in fact,
to be more human.


9 thoughts on “Poetry with Wings

  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, illustrated poem. As I was reading along, I thought “this is nice, and an interesting allegory of how life appears to be for humans.” ….but then I got to the end, the punch line, and it really zapped me! Very profound and thought provoking! Thank you so much!

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