bird chick - August 27, 2015s

author’s note:

In memory of Rita Patton, 1932-2015.


Long ago, a young girl
found a bird chick
opening its beak
to the sky in a silent plea

but though she tried so hard
the cup of her loving hands
could not save the bird

and yet
from that teary frustration
she was blessed

as she became aware
of an opening stretching down
toward the center of her chest:

whenever she saw anyone
crying that same silent plea
she could feel the pain
as the opening tore
just a little bit more…

just that much more


until finally, by instinct
she began to look away
from such everyday sights—

she ignored the silent pleas
she ignored the ghost bird
she ignored the pain.

But she did not live free
because spirits shadow us
even when we forget
and ever so often
they shock us—

just as the ghost bird surprised her
one bright morning

when she looked up
to find in the mirror
an echo of its silent plea
in her own desperate face—

a face she realized
she had secretly seen
in the many faces
she’d tried to ignore

and once again
she could feel the opening
tearing down into
the center of her chest

but deeper now, much deeper:

she then realized
she’d secretly witnessed
that same opening
in all those hearts
she had tried to ignore—

she realized
that even when hearts
live in the dark
they continue to stretch—
to open

just as her own heart
had silently deepened down
through years and years
of false darkness.

© 2015, Michael R. Patton
Listening to Silence: the book