The twittering of the blackbirds in the shin oak
behind the house annoyed her. The cawing
of the black crows who poached the melons
in her garden enraged her. She wasn’t interested
in the tiny finches who rustled the leaves on the vines
at her kitchen window. But when the year waned,
the leaves dried brown and began to fall, she listened
intently for the cries of the vee-shaped flocks of wild
geese gliding their way south. When she heard
the first ones coming, she called us to her,
saying with longing in her voice,
We turned our faces up and stood with her
while the graceful parade passed overhead,
their song ringing in our ears. We stood with her
until the last white form disappeared into the blue
depths, their calls fading to silence, until the tears
dried on her cheeks and the longing left her voice.
Now, decades in time and hundreds of miles
in distance from that lonely homestead
on the far reaches of the waving grasslands,
I stand in chill autumn air, listening intently
for a sound that never comes.
DOROTHY ALEXANDER is an Oklahoma poet, publisher and retired judge now living in exile among a kale-eating tribe of poets in Santa Fe, New Mexico.