ordinary birds Miriam Sagan Poetry

local_library ordinary birds

by Miriam Sagan

Published in Issue No. 246 ~ November, 2017

flock of

ordinary birds,

we’re walking

along the dry river,

and you say—the birds

don’t think of themselves

as ordinary,

in fact,

they probably call themselves

“the birds,”

and we laugh, tinkling about

how people

tend to call themselves

“the people”

as if there were no others,

and you continue—

the birds have

a creation story.

did they come from far away? I ask.

no, you say, from here.

red bulrushes, jagged mountains,

low clouds punctuating

turquoise sky

and heaps of bright green


torn from its

commensal home

by the wind.


it’s Christmas day

we’re two old Jews

out walking

by the Rio

no longer Grande

but a huge dry bed.

I pick up a piece

of mistletoe

and hold it

over our heads

and kiss you

on your soft lips

while the birds

write solstice

across the pale sun.

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Miriam Sagan is the author of 30 published books, including the novel Black Rainbow (Sherman Asher, 2015) and Geographic: A Memoir of Time and Space (Casa de Snapdragon). which just won the 2016 Arizona/New Mexico Book Award in Poetry. She founded and headed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement this year. Her blog Miriam’s Well (http://miriamswell.wordpress.com) has a thousand daily readers. She has been a writer in residence in two national parks, at Yaddo, MacDowell, Colorado Art Ranch, Andrew’s Experimental Forest, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Iceland’s Gullkistan Residency for creative people, and another dozen or so remote and unique places. Her awards include the Santa Fe Mayor’s award for Excellence in the Arts, the Poetry Gratitude Award from New Mexico Literary Arts, and A Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa.