A Poem from As Far As You Know by Toronto's Poet Laureate A.F. Moritz

A Poem from As Far As You Know by Toronto's Poet Laureate A.F. Moritz

Names of Birds

Awake at dawn, recalling my father, crying,

unable to go to sleep again, and soon

the first bird sings. Despair: when the first bird sings

and the first light comes and you havent slept.

I curse myself: the many-noted melody

is its signature but I cant read its name.

My father knew the name of every bird,

every tree, bush, and grass they played in,

every seed, bug, and worm they ate. Their friend.

Ive lived to an age far past what he received

and I know nothing. Father, where are you

so I can ask you and have you give me the names?

I always thought Id take the time, later,

to learn them from you. A scientist, he used to say

names are only for people. Now I see

birds have names and he knew them. Not just

the nomenclature of kinds the name of each one,

a strange sort of word that exists only an instant

when the bird answers a man who whistles to it

and then goes silent, hoping to hear him again.

11 May 2015

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