by Michael Smith


Three green plastic baskets,
the kind stuffed with strawberries and
covering tables at farmer's markets,
hang from a ponderosa's head-high boughs,
their bottoms lined with
randomly shaped strips of
violet cloth and
wads of surgical cotton.

I think children had faith
searching birds would
ferret out their location like
the robins that found a vee in
my backyard poplar before
knitting a cradle of twigs and
suspect materials indiscernible
from my perch on the ground,
or the hummingbird that wove
her nursery from
amber twine, cinnamon grass, black
thread, mint-green dental floss,
white tufts of rabbit fur, blue sponge and
red felt. A wild wind drove
it down from the yellowing maple
shedding on the driveway before my
cupped hands carried it to a bookcase shelf,
the shards of white shell surviving
the journey wedged between the fibers of
the apricot-size hollow.

Keen to fragilities,
like those of the surprise egg laid by
a friend's conure at the bottom of
a cage of steel,
and children's dreams,
I place a sparrow's discarded feather in
each of the swaying baskets and
walk away.

-originally appeared in Nimrod