Twitter: Destroyed

I saw my first-ever red-shouldered hawk today. We watched each other for a long time.

I saw the red-shouldered hawk where the brook and meadow meet. Part of me is still there.

I found where the killdeer go at night.

The internet is screwed. Take up birding.

I went outside to find the blue jay who was imitating a hawk. Instead, I saw a red-tailed hawk shoot out of my sweetgum tree.

There’s a northern flicker nesting in my silver maple.

Why am I so happy? Because I’m destroyed.

Suddenly, the air is snow-colored.

And sometimes a day like today is like / an empty room and this empty room / is a treasure. — Allison Grayhurst

Nostalgia, you are a leaking window.

Like finials, mourning doves embellish my fence on this otherwise unadorned day.

I saw an eastern bluebird in my yard today. I SAW AN EASTERN BLUEBIRD IN MY YARD TODAY.

I found two nests in the silver maple.

Two doors down, a boy rides his toy tractor through the leaves.

All the time I pray to Buddha / I keep on / killing mosquitoes. — Issa

My advice? Find some earth. Walk on it, slowly.

You can find me in the wetlands, but that’s not an invitation to come find me.

Night. A moth at my window. Hello.

I lost my curse words in the woods.

How I look when I see birds is not how I look when I see people.

Essays: Wings and Air

Leaves from our red oak appliqué the lawn. The fall-blooming plants have lost their flowers, save for two azaleas. Butterflies and moths have been visiting the azaleas since the butterfly bushes started dying back. Above, I see woodpeckers from time to time. They dance up and down the trunks of our sweet gums. I’ve seen a slate-colored junco on two occasions. Both times, he was sneaking over the fence to take a dip in one of our birdbaths.

We have three birdbaths. Before we moved to this house, I never paid attention to birds, at least not close attention. The birdbaths came with the home, a gift of sorts from the previous owner. The birds who visit our yard regularly were also a gift. Shortly after moving here, I decided it was time to do something about my long-held desire to identify the birds I saw. I got my wish when I was given a set of bird flashcards and a pair of binoculars. The View-Master effect of the binoculars made the whole world pop to life. I couldn’t believe such wonder existed right outside my door. I’ve spent countless hours not only watching birds but also examining trees, the sky, squirrels, the texture of all manner of surfaces, the shrubs at the back of the property that lean into each other like old friends, and so on.

One of my favorite birds is the junco. I remember them from when we lived here years ago, before we moved away (and subsequently moved back). They frequented the yard at our first house. I remember that time fondly. My trauma was about half what it is now, though those earlier traumas were closer to me, more deeply imprinted, less smoothed by time, effort and consideration. Now, the most recent traumas are the jagged ones. They jar me from sleep at night and intrude on my waking hours.

I’ve been fighting for a long time, for myself and for others. For the most part, I feel unheard and unseen. I am frustrated by the lack of literacy around trauma, oppression, discrimination, and other issues that profoundly affect people’s health and well-being. I am frustrated that neurotypicality is imposed on all levels and that social constructs are mistaken for truths.

The birds help. Immensely. They don’t give me answers, and that’s the whole point of paying attention to them. They allow me to stay on a little island called here and now, unaffected by what’s happened in my past and unburdened by the extremely difficult work of being heard above the din of prevailing beliefs and values.

In these small slices of time, there is nothing wrong, nothing at all. The world is wings and air, and I am part of it.

Twitter: Ordinary Birds

I am fascinated by ordinary birds.

All afternoon, two downy woodpeckers danced up and down the sweet gum tree.

Sprinklers have dressed the trees in dark skirts.

Jealousy: when the red-bellied woodpecker is in my neighbor’s yard, not mine.

Killdeers alight between two partially constructed mansions. For now, this land is still theirs.

Like the blind raccoon, I am afraid of wind, high grass, birds, and snow.

As I turned toward it, the light seemed to be a solid.

A squirrel and I startle one another.

I’ll watch the birds you ignore.

An American kestrel sits alone on a power line. It begins to rain.

Symmetry: six mourning doves evenly spaced on a neighbor’s cable line.

Dirt is my personal stylist.

Grebes float on the man-made lake as the sky drifts into night.

We all have to love something. Why not the cecropia moth?

Overhead, birds break like pool balls.

Poor vision turns fall leaves into cardinals.

Above, the turkey vulture looks like a scalloped black slip.

Twitter: Sewage Creek

I came home to a downy woodpecker, a chipmunk, and a baby bunny. They were all in the yard together.

Walking leaf, you don’t look like the trees in these parts.

Praying mantis, I see you’ve come to my window again tonight.

I was offered a gondola ride on sewage creek. I said no.

Weeds teach me about the wind.

Daylily, how many fragile ribs guard your seeds?

Fall: Leaves flutter in our sentences.

Rain has turned the sweetgum bark tobacco brown.

My friend is standing in a field painting animals.

That perfect time in the garden when everything is dying but nothing is dead.

Lawn moths are the angels of this abandoned prayer labyrinth.

At the old golf course, two kestrels hunt for grasshoppers.

October: The old crabapple’s leaves are dipped in red wine.

Little blue heron, the lake has made a shimmering replica of you.

Night: We move toads off the road so they won’t get run over.

Beneath the harvest moon, the syncopated call of a great horned owl.

In their appliquéd ballgowns, late-blooming azaleas wait for suitors who never arrive.

Twitter: Pollinators

Atop his favorite granite stone, my dearest chipmunk surveys his territory. There’s time to take it all in before the rain falls.

The rain is loosening the leaves from my red maple. What will I shed today?

I’m a fool like all the others: I follow the light.

Mine is also a life of enchantment.

Together, we are a different organism.

We stand looking at this root, and this root is fire.

And within my body, / another body … sings; there is no other body, / it sings, / there is no other world — Jane Hirshfield

The squirrel who has been nursing eats an acorn on my hammock.

A chipmunk uses railroad ties as a superhighway.

A shower of acorns. Look up! Two squirrels roughhouse in the old oak tree.

I am not alone. The cricket is here. The praying mantis is here. The chipmunk. The woodpecker. Two hummingbirds. And more. And more.

Moths are pollinators, too.

Someday, I will learn how to live. Until then, I will learn about life from the plants and animals in my backyard.

Did you know plants have memories? They learn how to not be afraid. They retain that information. If the Mimosa pudica can do it, so can I.

Mimosa pudica is also known as the sensitive plant, the shy plant, the touch-me-not plant. We could learn a lot from each other.

I saw the hawk flying low today, then high, a shadow traversing my neighbor’s roof.