poem-a-day

Fall

Recorded for Poem-a-Day April 23, 2019.
About this Poem 

“I am curious to know how we come to understand death, its permanence and inevitability. These two young girls were moved and saddened at the goldfinch’s crash into my window, but they accepted the result with a resolve adults either find more difficult or ignore all together. Unfortunately, I know this is only one of several sorrows they will face in their lifetime. I wish I could change that fact for them, but ultimately no one can.”
—Didi Jackson

Fall

           Do you know what I was, how I lived?Louise Glück

It is a goldfinch
one of the two

small girls,
both daughters

of a friend,
sees hit the window

and fall into the fern.
No one hears

the small thump but she,
the youngest, sees

the flash of gold
against the mica sky

as the limp feathered envelope
crumples into the green.

How many times
in a life will we witness

the very moment of death?
She wants a box

and a small towel
some kind of comfort

for this soft body
that barely fits

in her palm. Its head
rolling side to side,

neck broke, eyes still wet
and black as seed.

Her sister, now at her side,
wears a dress too thin

for the season,
white as the winter

only weeks away.
She wants me to help,

wants a miracle.
Whatever I say now

I know weighs more
than the late fall’s

layered sky,
the jeweled leaves

of the maple and elm.
I know, too,

it is the darkest days
I’ve learned to praise —

the calendar packages up time,
the days shrink and fold away

until the new season.
We clothe, burn,

then bury our dead.
I know this;

they do not.
So we cover the bird,

story its flight,
imagine his beak

singing.
They pick the song

and sing it
over and over again.

Copyright © 2019 by Didi Jackson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 23, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2019 by Didi Jackson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 23, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.