My friend Jeannine Atkins surprised me with a beautiful book just recently: The Poet’s Guide to the Birds.
We share an affinity for winged creatures, Jeannine and I. We swoon over beautiful writing.
Jeannine pens gorgeous stories-in-verse. Borrowed Names, for instance, is at once accessible and relatable. But truth be told, I’m as flinchy about most poetic forms as this hooded oriole is camera shy.
He allows me to take his picture through the sliding glass door. And I approach poetry sideways. I pore over the words, one at a time, search line breaks and punctuation marks for the keys to understanding.
It’s a subtle nudge, this book, in that the subject matter keeps bringing me back to the page. I’m learning to find my song within even the most obscure lyrics, to feel the pulse of this poetry in a way that resonates most with me.
Just yesterday, this hooded oriole posed for a long while on our backyard feeder. I watched it intently. Such a standout, with that glossy beak and sunshine-y feathers! You’d never guess its shyness, given those bold, bright colors.
Coincidentally, I’d just finished reading Patricia Kirkpatrick’s “Orioles,” a short poem about an ancient garden from which an orange and black tulip yearns to escape its rooted existence. As you might’ve surmised, the tulip takes wing and returns as an oriole.
The color orange suggests a Baltimore oriole, but I understood this creation story anyway. And as synchronicity would have it, the poem forged an even deeper connection to my friend Jeannine, for whom tulips are a favorite flower.
Roots and wings. Gardens and floral arrangements. This is how I’m grounding myself in poetry these days.