Canadian Poetry Online top banner link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page

Catbirds, Mockingbirds, Starlings

John Donlan

Birds repeat their parents' songs
As if their lives depend on it.
                                                  They do:
Catbirds, mockingbirds, starlings

Mimic birds or fire alarms but sound
Like catbirds, mockingbirds, starlings.
I compare my tongue-tied goodbye:
"You're dying, Mum."

                                            Stupid: I only hope
She was unconscious. (Was there a hand-squeeze?
Sometimes I tailor comfortless memories.)
I spoke so she'd know I was there, that's all.

Her chest sank on each useless breath:
Her lungs were full of fluid. She was drowning.
Pneumonia, the friend of suffering.
Unthinking, comfortless: at last, a truth we knew.


July 23, 2004


John Donlan's works copyright © to the author.


Canadian Poetry Online bottom banner link to University of Toronto Libraries home page link to Digital Collections home page link to University of Toronto Library catalogue link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page