Lucille Lang Day, "Birds of San Pancho"



        Nayarit, Mexico


A great kiskadee sits on the casa wall 

belting its exuberant song above

the dusty, cobblestone street. The bird

is masked like a raccoon, its breast

yellow as the butterflies that flit 

amid hibiscus and bougainvillea.


Far from the casa, where palms

and Maya nut trees grow lushly,

a yellow-winged cacique waits

in the paperbark tree, the lemony 

underside of its long tail cascading

like silk. It surveys the scene, ignoring

the golden-cheeked woodpecker,

streak-backed oriole, flycatchers

and scrub Euphonia sharing the selva.


Farther down the dirt road, where

red ants live inside acacia thorns,

a pale cow wanders alone, snubbing

the fat chachalacas singing chachalaca

as I pass by. It seems the birds are out

to cheer me, though I know food

and mates are what they’re after.

A whole flock of orange-fronted 

parakeets feasts on berries overhead.


Later, at the lagoon, a great blue heron,

a little blue heron, a green heron,

a night heron, two great egrets, eight 

snowy egrets and twenty cattle egrets

gather while brown pelicans dive

for fish and the sun’s bright disk sinks 

into the sea. When it disappears,

the egrets rise in groups and pairs

to settle in two coconut palms

for the night. Oh, to sit up there too—

safe, having eaten my fill—with

folded wings, watching over creation.



Lucille Lang Day has published eight poetry collections and chapbooks, including The Curvature of BlueInfinities, and The Book of Answers. Her first poetry collection, Self-Portrait with Hand Microscope, was selected by Robert Pinsky for the Joseph Henry Jackson Award. She is also the author of a memoir, Married at Fourteen: A True Story, which received a 2013 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award and was a finalist for the 2013 Northern California Book Award in Creative Nonfiction. Her short stories, essays, and poems have appeared in more than one hundred literary journals, such as Atlanta Review, Chattahoochee Review, Cincinnati Review, Hudson Review, The MacGuffin, Nimrod International Journal, Passages North, and Threepenny Review.