Then, a Robin

In our raw loss
new absence burrowed quickly
rearranged the loam
and its ant kingdoms,
the tins and buried spoons.
We’d come from the beach
with prayers on our lips,
and a handful of shells touched
by candle wax
when a robin twitched the ivy wall
and caught my daughter’s eye.
Only the day before
she’d reluctantly confessed a wish
to find a bird with a broken wing
to care for in a little box
in her bedroom.
So we brought it home
like the newborn boy
we’d been expecting
to bring home and nurse
into our lives. A tiny dish of water,
a single raspberry, and a fleece blanket
lightly twisted into the shape
of a nest.
By morning the robin sprang from the box
chirping SOS to the birds on the eaves
outside my daughter’s window.
Before we placed him in the understory
of the hillside forest
that stands behind our house
she held the robin—
not like a handful of wild blackberries
not like cupped ocean water,
a skeleton shrimp darting her palms
—she held him
like something finally accomplished
a thing she could now
let the trees take.

-Katy E. Ellis

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