Inside A Finch
……..The same June of the same year a stray canary had fluttered
……..into her house and mine in two widely separated countries. Nabokov
I’m surrounded by yellow in the burst of flight and startle,
I sing my black-tinged warnings: Don’t tread on me or my kin.
I’m your father’s voice on the porch, corn crackle as the old man
worries for his daughter. I am the burnishing of copper pipes
as he shines up that day’s work. “Beautiful,” he’d whisper,
as we would take flight around him. He’d carry his tools
to the truck. When my nest mate almost died, rushing the window
for escape, the old man and his daughter carried him to the edge
of the wind, warming his chest. I swear he was gone, but
their breath lifted him back to the forsythia flowers.
What magic these gods possess. For a time, my brother
became a still branch. Me? A leaf, bursting with song.
……... . . or draw a heart and our initials. I promised
……..when I was older I’d steal away with him to Mexico.*
I knew I would need to remember his voice
for a long time. He kept himself like himself the longest
on the porch, an old man used to work and not rest,
unsure of what he was supposed to do with his hands.
He reigned over the quick bright birds greedy for red sugar
water, studied them like a career, get up early dressing
in the dark, try to catch them asleep in their cocoons
of light. His hands would tremble, helpless to explain
how small they were, these noble bursts of fire. How ready
they are to leave this place and hitchhike to Mexico, he’d say,
make light travel on the back of some dull bird. Dad, I’d say,
You don’t believe that? When you get to be my age, he’d answer
You can believe almost anything. He’d look into the shadowy yard,
beyond the reach of his tired eyes. Anything that makes
it easier to not miss company when you know it’s time
for you to go, to hurry out into sunshine to a different place.
* From “Salt,” by Laurie Byro, written in 2005. See
© Laurie Byro
Laurie Byro has been facilitator for the “Circle of Voices” poetry discussion in New Jersey libraries for over 16 years. She is published widely in university presses in the United States and is featured in the recent anthology, St. Peter’s B List. Laurie has garnered more InterBoard Poetry Community (IBPC) awards than any other poet, currently 47. Two books of her poetry were published in 2015—Luna by Aldrich Press and Gertrude Stein’s Salon and Other Legends by Blue Horse Press. This year, she will receive a 2016 New Jersey Poet’s Prize for the opening poem in the Stein book. Laurie is currently Poet in Residence at the West Milford Township Library, where “Circle of Voices” continues to meet.