for Ginny Dawson


My friend rows out beyond the bells

and I cannot go with her.


I should have been more careful,

should have weeded out the white fingers


of birch crowding the bitternut hickory,

sumac invading the well-shaped yew.


But now the blackbirds of this early

summer morning ruffle up


from wet grass settling low

on the hemlock that grows wild


by the stream, squawking,

chucking, then off they startle


to light again among the overgrowth.

Each pauses, sleek, elegant, heeding


some symmetry between them.

They teach me patience. Rudbeckia


gone rogue in the kitchen garden

teaches me to reach. The bats


are tucked in for sleep, having worked

the night shift in silence. They teach me to see.


Pam Bernard has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing, two Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowships, a MacDowell, as well as the Pablo Neruda and Grolier Prizes. TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Cimarron Review, Barrow Street, and Nimrod are among the journals where she has been published. Of four published books, three are full-length collections of poetry, while a novel-in-verse, entitled Esther, was published last spring by CavanKerry Press.

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