John Bartell


I’m sorry, my love,
but I’ll be late for supper
It seems that there’s a prothonotary warbler
flitting about
in the limbs of a willow
whose weary leaves drape
over a bend in the creek
where the water slows
and spotted salamanders slide
through bottomless mud
that seeps between my toes.
Her orange breast
a captivating sight.
Her wings, so delicate.
Her song, a desolate string
of notes that cuts through my longing.
It’s all quite enchanting
and it seems that I just can’t leave.

© John Bartell

John Bartell’s “Saint Joe,” is forthcoming in the spring issue of Canyon Voices and his prose has been featured in the Manhattanville Review, Sanitarium MagazineFlash Fiction Press and in A. Lee Martinez’s Strange Afterlives Anthology. An avid birder, he saw his first prothonotary warbler in the woods of Harford Country, some twenty miles east (as the warbler flies) of Loch Raven Reservoir.


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