I wrote this poem two springs ago. It was a long winter. Looking back, that feels like ages ago. Hope it’s a reminder of the hope for spring and the joy that comes when the robins return and plants and trees come to life. Happy Friday!
The top news stories are “a suspect wanted for abandoning a cat in a dumpster,”
and “residents concerned robins are having a hard time in the late April snow.”
Another example of right bird, wrong season. So I, collect a little brush
to help protect the birds from the wind. Shovel a spot clear of snow for them,
set out some dried mealworms, berries, and suet.
Since the first dance of wind and human breath, birds have taken on
omen, oracle, hope. Biblical birds gorge on the defeated ‘beast’ in Revelation.
They bring bread to the prophets. Jesus brings a pigeon, yes, a pigeon to his first visit to the temple.
To Native Americans, birds soared above the clouds, perhaps to the heavens. They were the physical form of healers and spirit guides. They brought messages to the people from the Gods and their sense of freedom inspired faith.
The robin is portrayed in legends as the ‘can do,’ bird, rewarded for their work ethic. Some tribes see the bright red color of a robin’s breast as associated with fire. In some legends, the robin is either the guardian or the ‘thief of fire.’
It is the robin that is up with the poets, one of the earliest songbirds, and one of the latest. They sing when storms approach and when storms have passed. Dickinson dreaded the first robin, fearing the yellow daffodils, the sound of bees. She wishes instead for the grass to grow tall and hide the flowers.
As each animal came to Adam without a name. Each animal came to Emily with a known fate. It is not winter that leads to the most suicides, it is spring, with its joyful rebirth and reminder of life. For all the joy of spring, comes the long cold death of winter.
Today, the robin is the only sign. The snow continues late into springs day. The world wishes for the moment when spring parades in with robins, daffodils, bees, and blossoms, while Dickinson waves her ‘childish plumes,’ at them in ‘bereaved acknowledgement’ of the cycle of life and death.
It’s been a long, long winter when I, who mostly cares not about the robin, makes space for it in the ground, begins to feed it, hoping that truly it is the ‘thief of fire,’ the ‘can do,’ bird cause I have grown tired of tending this long winter’s fire of being the ‘can do,’ person.
I want to make space in the grass, give the robin it’s job back, let the cheery yellow gown of daffodils pierce me, as I dare meet the daffodils, and bear the bees. Not easily, disagreeing with you, Sweet Emily, but this year winter has been so long. I dare even say, you might not fear a yellow gown, a ‘fashion so foreign to your own,’ as to become a dressmaker for thee.