the living and the dead
nest in my head as
shapes of birds: 

the black rooster daughter preens and takes on all comers
the white hen daughter fluffs over her chicks

my winter-round chickadee grandma quick hops with her twig legs on the porch rail
my heron father-in-law stands sentry at the curve of Green River bordering the farm
my mother-in-law sparrow watches over her children, now flung far and wide

but my love is only the voice of the white throated sparrow
singing Sam PeabodyPeabodyPeabody to me
that clear November day
as though he’d been

caught up in the air,