Recorded for Poem-a-Day, September 26, 2017.
About this Poem 
“Watching my son encounter the world has taught me a dynamic kind of joy. He wants to know the world with such a ferocious intimacy, and it makes me want to know the world that way, too. To be willing to look at the awful vulnerability of hatchlings. To risk my heart on foolish and necessary miracles like love.”
—Traci Brimhall
 

Fledgling

I scare away rabbits stripping the strawberries
in the garden, ripened ovaries reddening 
their mouths. You take down the hanging basket 
and show it to our son—a nest, secret as a heart, 
throbbing between flowers. Look, but don’t touch, 
you instruct our son who has already begun 
to reach for the black globes of a new bird’s eyes, 
wanting to touch the world. To know it. 
Disappointed, you say: Common house finch, 
as if even banal miracles aren’t still pink 
and blind and heaving with life. When the cat 
your ex-wife gave you died, I was grateful. 
I’d never seen a man grieve like that 
for an animal. I held you like a victory, 
embarrassed and relieved that this was how 
you loved. To the bone of you. To the meat. 
And we want the stricken pleasure of intimacy,
so we risk it. We do. Every day we take down 
the basket and prove it to our son. Just look
at its rawness, its tenderness, it’s almost flying.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Traci Brimhall. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Traci Brimhall. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Traci Brimhall

Traci Brimhall

Traci Brimhall is the author of Saudade (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). She lives in Manhattan, Kansas.

by this poet

poem
We crawl through the tall grass and idle light,

our chests against the earth so we can hear the river


underground. Our backs carry rotting wood and books

that hold no stories of damnation or miracles.


One day as we listen for water, we find a beekeeper—

one eye pearled by a cataract, the other cut out by
poem
The first time I saw my mother, she'd been dead 
fourteen years and came as a ghost in the mirror, 

plucking the hair beneath her arms, and humming 
a bossa nova. She lotioned her chapped heels 

and padded her bra as if she were alive in the old way. 
She said I was born with my cord wrapped 

around my neck
poem

Posters for the missing kapok tree appear on streetlights
offering a reward for its safe return. I hate to spoil it,

but the end of every biography is death. The end of a city
in the rainforest is a legend and a lost expedition. The end

of mythology is forgetfulness, placing gifts in the hole