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"Hiking the restored prairie was more than lovely enough--

I could appreciate the good signage; got a chance to forget,

for a change, to respect fear. . . Where they happy in any

real way, whatever real is, those first," Carl Phillips begins his poem, Several Birds in Hand But the Rest Go Free.

I am the bird that came back to seeds in my father's hand. But I know they are not the original seeds. The university promotes acreage dividends to shaded out crop rows. Pollinator acres if you can stomach the paperwork. Farmers could be botanists. Ecologists. A better kind of the good neighbor each mows their ditch to be.

"pioneers? The happiest

people I know are those whose main strategy has

always been detachment. I’ve been working on that. Not so

long ago, for example, a sentence like ‘The skin where you

burned me last week with your cigarette has almost healed

completely’,” Phillips’ eyes hear what I cannot see.

"Burdocks come in bouquets, their flower the color of clover.

Sky blue inks beer cans," I muse as spring unfolds through barn slats.

". . . was so much harder to say. Progress. The way

bluestem, mallow, purple globes of clover, when said

together, make a kind of music, though they're nothing alike,

pale colors in a tall field-" Carl Phillips responds between the pages turned to a less than desired opportunity to recycle.

"No bridal wreath. No wild roses," Dad observes. "Failure to thrive, I suppose."

Or, the birds meant to carry their seeds did not return. But, perhaps they did return and could not find the seeds?

". . . all a prairie comes to. True pity,

as in deeply felt--I save mine, what's left of it, for

the wounded animals, the ones not yet dead. Already I don't

mean, anymore, the soft dark violent rustling wilderness

inside the bright one that I was before, when I saw wilderness." His pen put down, Phillips must have sighed.

“I suppose I should be grateful. No sun means no storms. When I was a kid it didn’t matter though. We’d climb on a tree knocked down, snapping branches like a felled monster’s fingers.” Dad closes the kitchen door. I don’t mention the birds’ nests that would have been tossed aside. When birds and seeds were sure things, rain had captured all attention. I order the book of poems, Wild is the Wind for Father’s Day.

Phillips, Carl. (2018). Wild is the Wind. Farrar Straus Giroux: New York.

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