Solace in Birdsong: A Quarantine Poem
Solace in Birdsong: A Quarantine Poem
I found solace in birdsong on the fourth day of quarantine
when it snowed.
The robin sat on the feeder outside the window that
swayed back and forth on its chains, dodging snowflakes. He
looked small and cold and lonely and I pitied him and
opened the window a crack. He fluttered away and I filled
the feeder with seed.
The weeks stretched on. Time became languorous. Trapped
in the tiny room with only the beating of my heart and the purr
of the furnace and the purr of the cat on the coverlet, I watched
the bird dance from winter into spring. In March came
a lion’s blast of cold and heavy snow. The feeder fell and
I grieved. But the robin returned to the window and sat
upon the branches and let burst a steady trill, a rising tide
of exuberant song.
As April crept into May, the cherry blossomed
and the robins came one by one to parade along its flowered
branches. Bellies round from spring’s caterpillar feast or with
worms drooping limp from their beaks they proceeded,
shuffling along, opening their mouths to let forth beautiful song.
The cat left the coverlet to sit on the sill and snarl. I watched
and laughed until tears streamed down my face.
Love regained, I mourned the love I had lost to the snow
and the bitter cold of February blues. I rejoiced in the coming
of spring, as the icy hand relinquished its grip around my heart.
I found solace in birdsong on the ninetieth day of the quarantine,
when I biked the cat to the vet. Dropped her inside and leaned
against a post outside. The robins and their bird companions
flocked to the feeder in the center of lawn. Woodpecker
and warbler let loose throaty song.
And the robin sang. And sang and sang and sang.
For the first time in months
I was not alone. A man put down his car window
and smiled at me. He had a friendly face and a human voice.
He was not a pixel-heavy impersonation of
humanity. His voice was not carried to me by
beams of light. For a moment I wanted to carry myself to him
on flying feet and press my hands to his face and my cheek
to his and feel the human touch. But I restrained myself.
A moment longer. A moment longer.
I asked his name. He asked mine. And the robin sang.
And sang and sang and sang. And we found solace
About a year ago, I went through a very lonely time in my life where I didn’t have much human interaction. Loneliness is very difficult. This year, I began thinking about how much more difficult it would have been if that period in my life had happened this year, when it’s even more impossible to connect with people due to the quarantine.
I’d also been wanting to write a “quarantine poem” for a while.
Part of the poem was inspired by a visit to the vet’s office I took with my boyfriend and his mother for our dog (not cat). We saw a number of beautiful birds visiting the feeder. I thought, “If the birds are at peace, then the world must be well without us, even as we go through this time.”
I dedicate this poem to anyone struggling with loneliness, especially through the quarantine period that’s just beginning to end. If you know anyone who’s struggled, please pass this poem along to them. I hope it will help to lift their spirits.
If you like the message behind this poem, you might also like my poem “The Mapmaker’s Daughter.”
Thank you for reading!
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“Suspended Animation,” a brief poem about the mental discomfort and anguish caused by isolation during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Dill Weed Dreaming,” a short poem tying love and loss to the changing of the seasons. Inspired by the power of smell.
“Song for the Gallows,” a very short poem about crime and punishment.
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