Having Secretly Given Each Other the Titles of Birds


poem by Karen Skolfield


This is the day where longing flies from the hands like a dove,
the knowable bird, dirty as pigeons but deemed lovable,
carved into the backs of furniture, their necks into hard hearts
of wood. Somewhere there’s a well capped in your lawn.

Stones cold to the somewhere water’s dark throat.
Birds have regions and territories, and songs all their own.

Bones empty with flight.

Somewhere in their nougat of brain birds mate for life,
memorize her particular thatch of pintails, the beak’s errant dot.
A birthday. A way of taking coffee. A dove in mourning will hopscotch
the passing cars’ tires if its mate has been struck down
by a wayward fender, a dove in mourning will shed actual tears,
it will wipe them with a handkerchief the size of a coin.
Not all of this appears in the book.
A dove will nest in the hair of the singular.

Birds too yellow to be doves.

And at the window you pull the crisp pages,
page after page of want, putting a name on everything.



Karen Skolfield