Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30: Shadbush and cloud

Despite my office windows being shut against today's chill, I could hear the song of a warbler singing somewhere outside. So I put on my coat, grabbed my binoculars, and wandered around looking for him. Around the back of the building, I was confronted with the glorious sight of a shadbush tree in full bloom, one or two of its white petals twirling through the air on the slight breeze. The sun was high in the sky; everything shone, even the single cloud drifting past. Finding the yellow-rumped warbler singing in a nearby alder was almost anti-climactic.

Stretching in the sun,
shadbush reaches for the clouds.
Warbler sings below.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29: Bones and blossoms

My husband and I went looking for a some birds today and found a few other things besides. In the woods surrounding Weskeag Marsh, we came across the old bones of what we think must have been a moose--or a very lost (and large) cow. The bones were huge, scattered across both sides of the trail, picked clean by time. Curved bows of ribs, puzzle pieces of vertebrae, leg bones like clubs--such odd objects to come across as the woods come to life: coltsfoot blooming, skunk cabbage unfurling amid the tangle of alders, palm warblers flitting along the marsh's edge.

Amid the old bones
rise again flowers, unfurl
again the green leaves.

Moose boneyard
Skunk Cabbage

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 28: First warblers

A few warblers have been around for a little while--yellow-rumped, pine, palm, the odd sighting of other species here and there, and in southern Maine, the discovery of a hooded warbler, an unusual visitor that doesn't often wander this far north. Very early this morning, as I was jogging up the street to catch a ride to an all-day land conservation conference--as usual, I was a little late--I made myself even more late when I stopped to listen to my first black-and-white warbler of the year. That sweet, high-pitched "squeaky wheel" song was clearly audible over the roar of the still-high river.

The next few weeks should herald the arrival of many more warblers. I think I'm going to start walking to work--a real possibility now that I don't have to lug a laptop to and fro anymore. This time of year, each day's returning birds is new cause for excitement, so I'm betting that I'm going to be strolling in even later than ever, having paused along the way for each chip and trill.

I'm late yet again,
steps slowed by a "squeaky wheel"--
welcome back, warbler!

Female black-and-white warbler.
Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Wander via Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27: Moon through trees

Criss-crossed by branches,
the moon's a stained glass window
on the universe.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 26: Willow

This morning as I was walking into a meeting, these two willows were shining in the early light, emanating that incandescent glow of spring leaves. I thought of long, golden tresses and Rapunzel. I thought of how when I was a kid, a willow bough made the best "whip" to use when I pretended I was a horse. The willow tree image that used to be carved in old gravestones came to mind, and I wondered how such a glorious tree came to have such a melancholy association. Weeping willows--why not shining hair willows? The Joan Armatrading song "Willow" began playing on my "head radio": "I'll be your shelter in a storm, I'll be your willow, your willow..." and I wondered how much shelter a willow really provides. The willow next door flings its branches all over our yard whenever there's wind, and one of its larger branches actually wiped out our neighbor's power line in a big storm last year. But these trees, they inspired me to dig out my camera, take a photo. And then I went into my meeting.

Arboreal muse,
no wonder your boughs hang down--
poetic baggage.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25: New moon and Venus

Driving home from an exquisite meal at Hartstone Inn tonight, pleasantly full and happy, we looked out the window and there's the new moon, low and bright in the western sky, a big white bowl full of sky. And to the right of this bright crescent hangs shining Venus, the Evening Star, the candle at the table.

Night sky's a banquet.
Main course: the young crescent moon,
side order of stars.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24: Dandelions

As the lawn greens, dandelions begin to show their shaggy golden heads. I don't know what I have against them. When I was a kid, we used to eat the greens, steamed like chard or fresh in a salad, and my grandmother would pay me to pick bags full of the flowers so she could make dandelion wine. But I love the green of my little patch of lawn so much, with its bordering gardens of cultivated flowers and herbs, that the invasion of dandelions sends me in a daily plucking frenzy this time of year. Today, the annual battle began.

A dollar per pound.
I never understood how
flowers became wine.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23: New leaves in the rain

Over the weekend when we were checking out the shops of Portsmouth, I found myself drawn over and over to green things: a sage green fleece, a leaf green tee shirt, a chartreuse cardigan, a necklace of green leaves with little pearl flowers. This morning I was moved to wear an uncharacteristically bold (for me) print dress of big green and brown flowers and leaves. When I looked out the rain-streaked window, I realized what was going on. Along the river, shining in the rain, the popples and maples unfurl their bright green leaves. And I'm trying to wear them! Perhaps that's my way of taking on some of that renewing energy--"that force that through the green fuse drives the flower," to quote poet Dylan Thomas.

I want to be spring--
that neon green of new leaves,
hair washed clean by rain.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 22: Carmina Burana

My husband and I experienced a performance of "Carmina Burana" performed by the USM Concert Band and Chorus in Portland this afternoon--the perfect way to spend a rainy Earth Day. This stirring piece of music was composed by Carl Orff in the 1930s, based on a set of 13th century secular German poems collected in 1847 by Johann Andreas Schmeller (according to my program)--a veritable palimpsest of artistic traditions.
While I was familiar with the intro piece (O Fortuna) from its use in a significant scene in one of my favorite movies, "Excalibur," I had no idea that that was just a small part of a 25-part cantata focused on the lusty energies of spring, eating and drinking in a tavern, and, well, sex. Apparently those 13th century poems were written by defrocked monks.
Our enjoyment was enhanced by a translation included in the program, which helped us figure out that the tenor soloist's only part was a song about being a roasted swan about to be eaten. He had a beautiful voice--as did all three soloists--so this seemed a bit unfair, but perhaps singing the part of the cooked swan in "Carmina Burana" is considered a plum role in the voice performance world.
Spring's glory rides in
on percussion crescendos,
a chorus of love.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 21: Out of state

We traveled way out of Maine today, all the way over the border to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Things are different down south. For one thing, check out the exotic-looking iris, above. There's nothing blooming like that back home yet. And the streets are lined with fragrant flowering trees, crabapples and cherries. It felt like summer here, with the cobbled sidewalks of historic downtown filled with tourists in flip flops and sundresses, street musicians on every corner. Even more exciting, they seem to value poetry here in a very public way. We noticed these Ambushed by Poetry signs all over town.
In the sunny shop
Bob Dylan's singing for us,
our weekend away.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 20: Splashes of pink

This is the week when flowers began busting out all over. In the neighbor's yard, over the fence, I can just glimpse the top branches of her always-spectacular azalea, which went from tiny buds to full bloom in two days flat. By her front door, a pink magnolia's delicate blossoms on still-bare grey branches glow in the afternoon sun. In our own yard, a single, odd, rose-colored bulb of some kind (a hyacinth, maybe?) has suddenly opened its petals in an otherwise still barren patch of garden. Pink is such an alluring color in nature, and right now, so refreshing for the eye, these splashes of color transfusing into a slowly-awakening world.

These early petals--
alluring pink of lips, skin,
rosy newborn life.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19: Test

Just testing my new blog posting ability via the Blogsy app on my iPad. And here is my cat.

April 19: Chipping sparrow

There's normally nothing too exciting about the song of the chipping sparrow. The sparrow falls into a group of songbirds often referred to as "trillers" by birders. Its dry, almost staccato trill is barely distinguishable (by me, at least) from the trill of a junco, palm warbler, pine warbler, swamp sparrow, or, in the right habitat, worm-eating warbler. Every year I think I've got down some slight variation that will help me distinguish between them, and every year I'll get my binoculars on whatever bird is trilling and my guess will often be wrong. But the challenge is part of the fun of birding by ear.

Chippies commonly nest in some pines across the street from my office. I hear them through the summer, and sometimes even see them on the window feeder at my office. These small, pert sparrows are cute, scientifically speaking, with a thin red cap over a black eye stripe. They flit about the lawn, calling to each other with high, sweet chip notes, punctuated now and then by the males doing their trilling thing. The repetitive song can be a bit monotonous. But there's something very exciting about hearing it today for the first time this spring, and then tracking down the little triller with my binoculars to confirm that chipping sparrows are indeed returning to their breeding grounds in my neighborhood.

Chipping sparrow's song--
so much conveyed to bird's ears,
just a trill to ours.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 18: Keeping it going

Most days I enjoy
writing the haiku more than
writing the intro.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17: What I saw on my run

Megunticook River running low, baring lots of rocks; my first yellow-bellied sapsucker of the spring pecking on a pine tree; small pink magnolia bush in full bloom; a lawn full of daffodils; flock of waxwings in an apple tree; several brush piles waiting to be burned; one other runner, moving much more easily than I; a very nicely renovated back porch; fat robins hopping on the green grass; hikers climbing on the exposed rocks on Mount Battie; black cat hanging out on a log above a stream in the woods; crow flying with something large and orange in its bill; a rhododendron just starting to bud; alder wetland full of singing peepers; flock of maybe a dozen free-range chickens scattered all over a front yard; a guy smashing something on his ATV really loudly; truck for sale: 1998 but only 62K miles, runs great; a bank of forsythia bushes in full neon-yellow bloom; and this, on the pocket-sized lawn of our neighbor's trailer, nestled between two bushy pine trees:

Four white plastic chairs,
hibachi in the middle,
two tiki torches.

Some people have the gift of being able to make a party anywhere.

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16: Gone Fishing

I came home tonight to an empty house. I didn't expect it to be empty; my husband's car was out front as usual. In fact, I came in the door talking to him, was in mid-sentence before I realized that the only one there to greet me was the cat. Maybe he walked to the store, I thought. He wasn't feeling well today, maybe he wanted some comfort food? Then I saw his note: he'd gone out back to get in some fishing. The guy can't talk because his throat is so sore, but he's down on the river right now on this chilly evening casting a line. For some reason that makes me really happy, despite my concerns for his health. Until yesterday, when our niece compelled him to take her fishing, this guy--who in the past has always had a line in on the water on April 1--hadn't yet made the time to go fishing this spring. Now, hopefully he'll get back in the groove of spending that half-hour or so by himself at the end of each busy day, unwinding down on the river with his rod and flies.

Fisherman alone
with his thoughts, casting them free
into the river.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 15: Cat's view

Beautiful sunny day here, unseasonably warm, the kind of weather that--along with the neighbor's guitar-playing out on his porch--just beckons one outside. I tried to spend a good chunk of time out in the sun, raking off some garden beds and planting a few hardy flowers, wandering barefoot around the mossy lawn, and dragging my mat out to the bright back porch for my daily exercises. And when I got into the car to run some errands, I indulged in another one of my favorite summer Sunday pastimes: listening to the Red Sox game on the radio.

One of the day's entertainments has been watching the crows. Throughout the day the local gang has been following and haranguing the newly-returned osprey. The osprey seems fond of this stretch of the river, flying back and forth low over the water, sometimes perching in one of the big trees in our back yard. I can tell by the tone of the crows' caws when they're on the job. At one point, a crow was barking its "alarm call" over and over right right behind our house. I held the cat up to the window so she could see the crow, but she didn't seem all that interested despite the bird's proximity and loudness. What she was attracted to was a flurry of motion in the dead leaves on the opposite bank of the river: two courting squirrels circling tree trunks in a hormonal frenzy. She may not be attuned to crow calls like our former cat was, but she certainly has good eyesight.

As I've been typing this out on the back step, the crows have been shifting places from tree to tree to keep a close eye on the osprey, which just flew back up river and is perched in one of the neighbors' maples. For the moment they're not yelling. One crow plucks at a twig and makes weird rattling noises; another just perched on the tree closest to me and sits there looking in my direction. "Yes, I'm writing about you," I tell it. A third is splashing around in the river taking a bath. Now it too has flown up to a nearby tree, shaking and ruffling its wet feathers. Apparently they've called a temporary truce with the osprey.

Who can ignore crows?
Yet Cat would rather swat at
flies, stare at squirrels.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 14: Child's play

My nieces, age 2-1/2 and 5-1/2, are visiting this weekend, and today was "Niece Day" for me. I'm not quite up to taking on both of them together for the entire day, so I spent the first half with the younger child, Nola. Our time together, the first she's ever spent completely alone with me, included such simple pleasures as getting purple unicorn sugar cookies for a snack and hiking up Beech Hill. On the way up we discussed blueberries, hurricanes, Alvin and the Chipmunks, building sand castles, and other important matters, pausing often to "rest"--i.e. sit in the trail side grass and toss pebbles at things. She filled her pocket with random bits of gravel she deemed "treasure." During one of our rest stops, a harrier flew over our heads, close enough that even Nola could appreciate it. She also appreciated Beech Nut, the stone hut at the summit that my sisters and I were taken to by our mother starting about when we were Nola's age. Nola imagined the stone-walled rooms inside as good places for Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty to live. Then I gave her a piggy-back ride back down the hill.

After a good healthy lunch of pizza and another cookie, I dropped off Nola and picked up the older niece, Fiona. It was Fiona's idea to go fishing with Uncle Paul so she could watch him and be his fishing helper. So we clambered down to the river and Paul's favorite fishing spot, where he cast a line without much hope because the water level's so low right now. But, surprisingly, he hooked a fish in no time, and Fiona reeled it in--a small, pretty brook trout; her first fish! As this was going on, an osprey flew overhead and perched nearby, perhaps hoping that it could get it on the action after we released the trout. Paul let Fiona pick out the next fly, and though he was skeptical of her choice, she was quickly reeling in her second fish, a little smallmouth bass. Already her lifetime fishing record tops mine.

Later, after more adventures at home and an early dinner at the Waterfront (the usual for Fiona: plain pasta, hot fudge sundae), we walked along the Harbor Park sea wall and were thrilled to see a river otter hanging out in the harbor. Several times it poked its head out of the water to look right at us. It was Fiona's first otter, an event made even more significant by the fact that her last name is van Otterloo, so the family has a strong affinity for otters.

While I'm thoroughly exhausted now, I'm grateful for this day of many small excitements made even better by their being shared with my two favorite little girls.

Young or old, we all
appreciate hawks, otter,
spring's first-caught brookie.

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13: Basking seal

While enjoying lunch at the Waterfront Restaurant on Camden harbor today, I noticed several patrons and a few of the waitstaff craning their necks to see something out the window. Apparently a seal was out on one of the floats in the inner harbor. I had to see it for myself, of course, and there it was--a big fat, patchy seal stretched out atop the float in presumed bliss in the bright sun. While I don't ascribe to the notion that animals don't possess emotions, I try not to project my own emotions onto them. However, there's no way that wasn't one relaxed and happy seal.

Seal basking on dock--
to achieve such calm I too
should sprawl in the sun.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 11: Wildlife at the dump

The fitness center at our local YMCA has big windows that look out onto interesting views of the local dump. Stay with me, here. I'm not entirely joking. One window faces a big ugly metal building, but in the background, craggy Mount Battie rises dramatically amid the Camden Hills. The sky is often an important presence in this scene, as well. Some evenings the window frames a spectacular moonrise. This afternoon a bank of shining white-topped cumulus clouds lurked on the horizon. This particular window is along the track, in an otherwise inaccessible corner of the gym; the prospect of another glimpse of a cool-looking sky is sometimes the main incentive for me to run one more lap.

Other windows, placed so gym-goers can enjoy a view from the weight machines, face the back of the building. There's a patch of woods through which deer sometimes pass. And there's more of the dump, a section that includes an area of grassed-over land fill marred by piles of demolition debris. A couple of nights ago, as my husband and I were walking together on the track, we noticed a crow dive-bombing a hawk in a tree at the dump's fringe. This evening, on yet another round of the track, we noticed a flock of turkeys out there. On each circuit, we tried to pay attention to them. At one point, a big tom was fanning his tail and strutting through a group of apparently unimpressed hens. Another couple using the weight machines had also noticed them, with seeming delight.

Beauty's not the thing--
habitat is habitat.
The turkeys don't care.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10: Not snow

On Sunday we watched actual snow flakes falling. This evening it just looks like it's snowing: a mass of white insects has hatched in the back yard. A swirling swarm of them fills the air space between the house and river. As the last rays of the sun send a column of light through the yard, illuminating the flies, the sheer magnitude of the hatch becomes visible. Shifting my focus, I realize the little gnats are also stuck all over my screen window. They're almost tiny enough--my husband estimates them to be about a #26 fly--to fit through the holes in the screen.

It's too chilly to be hanging out in the back yard anyway, so I can enjoy the sheer visual marvel of this insect flash mob, as well as appreciate the return of non-biting insects in numbers sufficient to feed returning songbirds and trout down in the river. The phoebe singing outside my office window this morning, for example, will be grateful for this flying feast.

Flies swirling like snow
after all snow has melted--
air's never empty.

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9: Blossoming blueberries!

That almost sounds like something Captain Haddock from the Tin Tin series would say, in lieu of his usual, "Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles!" The often-tipsy Captain Haddock would at least appreciate that I've been forcing a blueberry sprig this spring in an old tequila bottle vase, even if he might not notice the subtle beauty of the little white bells of its blossoms.

Several weeks ago I snapped a dry and bare twig from a patch of blueberry bushes alongside a trail on Ragged Mountain. For a long time, nothing seemed to happen. But slowly the twig has leafed out and is now flowering. Such a tiny, wondrous thing right here in my kitchen, while outside the plants still awaken from their long winter's nap.

We call it "forcing,"
but these blueberry flowers
open with such grace.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 8: Easter nests

Earlier today we watched a few lazy snowflakes drift over the backyard. No egg hunts for us on this raw Sunday. The cat batted a felt egg around the living room, while golfers swatted golf balls around the Masters course in Augusta, Georgia on t.v. Here, we were serenaded by a cardinal and a chaotic chorus of goldfinches. In Augusta, Carolina wrens, mockingbirds, and at least one bluebird provided background music to the golfers. Later, we enjoyed Easter buffet with my parents at the Samoset's La Bella Vita restaurant, happily stuffing ourselves at an ocean view table with two gulls staring in at us (or more accurately, at our food).

Signs of spring are becoming more and more apparent despite the lingering chill and today's brief snow, but what struck me as we drove home from the Samoset was how many of last year's bird nests are yet visible among the still-bare branches. One yard had two nests tucked in two different trees: four nests in one small front lawn. My eyes began to pick out one after another in the trees (along with a few squirrel dreys). Songbirds don't re-use their nests like eagles or ospreys, so these truly are homes of seasons past. But in just another month or so, these trees will be leafed out, and nest-building will begin anew...

Holiday of eggs--
in the bare branches we spy
last year's nests, empty.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 7: Neurotic cat

Our cat was a stray before we adopted her, so we have no idea what her past history is except that she's spayed and de-clawed. And someone at some point taught her that snapping fingers mean "get off the kitchen counters!" She has her little feline neuroses, some undoubtedly resulting from her having been a starving stray last winter. She's obsessive about her food, meowing insistently if anyone goes remotely near her dish, even though she's now a normal weight and has been on the same feeding regimen for three months. And she has a spot on her right hind leg, perhaps the site of an old injury, that she licks repeatedly. My husband and I joke that we've taught her one trick; when she curls up next to us, one of us will say, "Flop down and lick your leg." And she does. It seems to be her method of relaxing--suddenly collapsing alongside one of us and licking that darn leg. But it apparently soothes her.

It may drive us nuts,
but who are we to judge what
brings calm to others?

Friday, April 6, 2012

April 6: Heron in flight

I should never answer the phone when I'm working late. Just as I was leaving work I got a particularly unpleasant call, the kind that manages to depress that feeling of lightness I often get at the end of a long work day (especially now, the hours of remaining daylight still seem like such a gift). I slouched toward the car in a dour mood when I just happened to glance up. A great blue heron flapped across the still-blue sky, right over my head--the first one I've seen this year. As I drove home, my eyes followed the big bird slowly winging its way down river, then bearing east over the rocky ridge of Mount Battie. A moment resonant with ancient beauty, just when I needed it.

Watching the heron's
slow seaward flight erases
unease from my mind.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 5: Approaching Easter

The moon ripens as we approach Easter weekend. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Interesting that such an important Christian holiday would have lunar--and thus, dare I say, pagan--origins. In fact, the very word "Easter" probably derives from the name of an ancient fertility goddess--Oestre, Astarte or Ishtar. The fertility symbolism is even more obvious when you think about the main representatives of Easter: rabbits and eggs. (I witnessed first-hand as a child, during a rabbit cage-cleaning moment gone awry, the phenomenal fecundity of rabbits.) Even the concept of the resurrected god dates back to many pre-Christian cultures with stories of Attis, Mithras, Osiris, and more. So you don't have to be Christian to fully embrace the feeling of revival in the air right now, as sap rises in the trees, leaf buds swell, the day's light lingers longer, green shafts of lily leaves re-emerge from the underground, loon returns to the river to fill the night with his stirring tremolo, and goldfinches molt into bright breeding plumage. Renewal seems possible for any of us. It's just the way we roll in spring.

Finch sprouts more yellow--
even the birds glow brighter
as Easter moon swells.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


NB: This blog posting is not a haiku post but a general-information-about-Kristen's-poetry post. Sorry for the interruption! If I had a website, I'd be posting this there, but I don't, so...

Transportation is the title of my book that was published in December (see my December 15, 2011 blog entry), and it's also the name of the last poem in the book. Today I had the incredible honor of hearing that poem read by Garrison Keillor on "The Writer's Almanac" on National Public Radio. You too can hear and/or read the poem by going here. This has got to be one of the highlights of my life as a poet, and I was really feeling the love today. Thank you to all of you who sent such kind words in response to hearing my poem! It means so much to me. Poets don't usually get a lot of fuss made about their work, so this has been an amazing experience.

I've had a lot of people inquire about purchasing a copy of my book, so here's the scoop: Transportation is available for $16.00 (includes shipping in the US) directly from the publisher, Megunticook Press, otherwise known as me, at 12 Mount Battie St., Camden, ME 04843. Mail a check made out to Kristen Lindquist (that's me) and include your mailing address, and I'll send you a signed copy right away. The book is also available at The Owl & Turtle Bookstore in Camden, ME; Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick, ME; the Reading Corner in Rockland, ME, and Longfellow Books in Portland, ME--please shop at our independent bookstores if you can.

Again, thank you for your interest in and support of poetry!

April 4: Red halo

Looked up in the night sky to see a big blurry red halo almost entirely encircling the waxing gibbous moon. We've been watching the HBO series, "Game of Thrones," in which a red comet appears in the sky as an omen, we're told, of dragons. What might a red halo portend? Global warming?

Fat moon, red halo.
An omen: are dragons here?
Are we due some fire?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3: Moon with vulture

Coming home from work early this evening, early enough that the sky was still a deep blue, I looked up to see a vulture soaring above a fat, white, gibbous moon just rising over Mount Battie. I'm not sure why the juxtaposition struck me as so remarkable, as none of the elements--mountain, vulture, moon, blue sky--were unusual in and of themselves. But taken in all together, they made me pause, breath held for just a moment, until the vulture soared upriver and out of sight.

Soaring late in day,
vulture catches up with moon.
Both crest the mountain.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2: Sun after a grey day

At day's end the sun finally shines, and the joy of it is that I'm able to sit out on my back step--well insulated, but outside--and write for a little while before dinner. The low light breaks through bare branches to make the river gleam like polished silver. The neighbor's dog barks her last round of the afternoon. The neighbor kids are jumping on their trampoline; I can hear their squeals and shouts. I even sneak in a few minutes of hooping on the lawn, with my shiny new hoop decorated in blue and silver tape. The cardinal cheers me on with his song of "tew, tew, tew" from somewhere near and high, and a downy woodpecker squeaks from a nearby stand of maples. 

Unexpected sun--
a few moments in the yard
are the day's highlight.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1: Dead blackbird

A friend tells me today how, walking on a beach in February, she and her husband came across a dead red-winged blackbird. The bird was untouched, a male, black with bright red and yellow feathers on its wings like epaulettes. He was heading north early, hoping to get to the best territory ahead of the others--but he seems to have made the journey a little too soon. He probably froze to death, dropping out of the sky from cold and exhaustion, one of the harsh statistics of migration. He may have flown all the way from South America before he landed on that beach in New Hampshire.

Some impulse made my friend want to keep the bird's body, rather than just tossing it back into the waves. So she brought it home, five hours away, and tucked it in her freezer between the peas and the shrimp. She doesn't know what to do with it now. She's not even legally supposed to have a blackbird in her freezer; the Migratory Bird Act prohibits owning even a single feather of a migratory bird, though most of us do. I think she wrote a poem about it. She might donate it to a nearby college's biology program. Or give it an elaborate burial.

No meal left for gulls,
the blackbird's body, preserved,
becomes a relic.