Thursday Poem

Catbirds, Mocking Birds, Starlings

Birds repeat their parents' songs
As if their lives depend on it.
They do:
Catbirds, mockingbirds, starlings

Mimic birds or fire alarms but sound
Like catbirds, mockingbirds, starlings.
I compare my tongue-tied goodbye:
“You're dying, Mum.”

Stupid: I only hope
She was unconscious. (Was there a hand-squeeze?
Sometimes I tailor comfortless memories.)
I spoke so she'd know I was there, that's all.

Her chest sank on each useless breath:
Her lungs were full of fluid. She was drowning.
Pneumonia, the friend of suffering.
Unthinking, comfortless: at last, a truth we knew.

by John Donlan
July 23, 2004