Mockingbird (Mimus Polyglottos), a poem

illustration mockingbird mimus polyglottos

Mockingbird (Mimus Polyglottos)

I had to draw you in third grade —
a report on Florida, my home state then.
Looked in books, didn’t like the flatness,
lack of color, so sought you in the yard,
rewarded by sudden vocal flourish,

clean as the sun’s flaming disc
in the tropical sky. No one can
trap your beauty on paper. Graceful twists,
curious angled head, feather flutter soft.
White stripe of wing. Sly copyist,

copycat, derivative virtuoso
elegantly arrayed in gray and white —
au fait like the nun who taught me,
her voice hung in the air like yours.
Secret messages from God.

I knew all birds once I knew you,
uberbird, condensed history of music,
your knowing lentil eye. You knew me.
Stared at me, saucy songster, head cocked,
more brilliant and beautiful than I would ever be.

A bird aptly chosen and laughing
for this land which also mocks us —
the sun’s burning rays, the leaden air,
the flood of migratory bodies from duller climes…
you are wiser, don’t have to travel

with your pearly gray and white, never
tiring slender leg and so
quick, quick on the wing.
Your song — who needs other birds,
you can do them all, I listen for you still.

Sing to me sister, brother, mother,
father, friend — you have my gratitude.
Take me away with you…
give me some of your wildness,
give me your voice, your bright eye.

You know what you like,
you can hear something once
and sing about it forever. Your music helped
when Mommy reeked of whiskey
and tried to snuggle in bed with me.

Where does an eight-year-old
learn to send that kind of love away?
I cried that night but you sang to me
in the morning. You watched me swing
from the holly tree, you were there

when everything happened,
you saw it all and sang your tunes,
gave me the comfort of lovely noise
to fill my head when all around was ugly.
You were nursemaid to my heart.

11 Comments

Filed under poetry

11 responses to “Mockingbird (Mimus Polyglottos), a poem

  1. You may have felt as a child that the mockingbird was more beautiful than you would ever be. But the poem, itself, proves you wrong. You’ve arrayed yourself in the finery of memory, longing, pain, and insight. The result is nothing short of beautiful.

    A.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gertie Hentze

    Cheers! Here’s to hearing more mockingbirds.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie Major

    I can’t wait to read more of your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Isabelle Goolsby

    We stumbled over here from a different page and thought I
    should check things out. I like what I see so now
    i am following you. Look forward to going over your web page
    repeatedly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fawn McCloughry

    Mockingbirds are a great subject. The sounds they make can truly be like music.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jacqueline Gill

    I love mockingbirds, too. A very excellent poem. I can hear them outside my window right now!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rhys DeCicco

    I never saw mockingbirds in this light before. I like the scientific name, don’t you? Here’s to Mimus Polyglottos!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charlotte Berling

    The natural world is in trouble. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books. I’m 16 and I’m scared. Why did the older generations fuck stuff up like this???? But I liked the poem a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kendall Wysocki

    I am studying poetry at Iowa. I am so enthralled with poetry of nature… it’s been so devalued lately, in favor of word tricks & surrealistic riffs that amount to nothing more than elaborate masturbation. Can I private mail you some of my work?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dominic Corona

    When I moved to the States, these birds were my favorite. Twenty years later they still are. What a nice poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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