Through my in-laws’ breakfast window
in the country, the nuthatches roll
and bounce and shake spiny winter
brambles. Their breasts puffed round
as if to fit in the hand of a child.
I scrape rings of hardened milk
from my coffee mug while I confuse
the birds for chickadees
and search for spring.
The week before, in Pittsburgh, I saw
a young man standing on the lawn
at Mellon Park, his hands nested above the waist.
I imagined his suffering and his solace,
his prayer, before he raised his hand,
flashing a cell phone
in the late morning sun.
Now, at the hospital, my father-in-law sleeps
with his mouth half open. A girl folds to her knees
in the busy hallway outside our room. As she mews
and weeps under the buzzing fluorescents
I remember my father-in-law
on the tennis court, his racquet
slicing the downy ball the same
color as the paper-plastic hospital
gown I’m forced to wear. The girl’s face
is inflated and her braids are tight. The sound
is a glass bell of sadness,
and I wish I had a nuthatch
to wrap in her two hands.
Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to email@example.com
Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.