Cynthia Neely

Birding at the Potholes


Red epaulets flash on marsh grass,
draw our scopes from familiar fields of view,
the hunt for something to lift us
from our narrowed focus. We search

for cranes, whose stilt legs barely
carry them, whose wings loft them
graceless – a run, stumble, flap – before air
becomes substance that will bear them.

Our son follows, crane-legged, iPod-eared.
He doesn’t hear the calls that pull us forward,
doesn’t see the meadowlark, bibbed and shining,
the porcelain painted puff of chucking quail.

His footprints are as big as ours, but
he won’t fill them, his head bowed, back bent
to minutiae: ants, scat, a feathered sign of struggle,
the treasure of pebble and spent shotgun shell.

He has no interest in our quest; the present
and the past are all right there
under his feet, no need to scan the sky
for cranes, already gone.

“Birding at the Potholes” previously appeared in The Raven Chronicles and San Pedro River Review.


Cynthia Neely is the 2011 winner of the Hazel Lipa Prize for Poetry with her chapbook “Broken Water”, published by Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in, among others, Bellevue Literary Review (Honorable Mention – Marica and Jan Vilcek Poetry Prize, 2011), Crab Creek Review, Floating Bridge Review, and Raven Chronicles, and are included in several sonnet anthologies.


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