Hunting chickadees

         for Teryl    (for recovery, for relief, for healing, for hope)

It is morning, it is spring, it is fall or afternoon,
when we go chickadee hunting, packing
only our willow walking sticks,
our eyes and our ears.

We descend east, then north to the unnamed lake
(unnamed, we gather, to found its magnetic mystery),
east again, curling past the beaver house—tangle
of trimmed limbs—where we leave the human trail
for the leaf-matted tracks that rabbit through poplar,
pine and birch,
red dogwood, beaked hazel and wild currant,
and lead up a low ridge—roller of rhizomes and runners,
saplings and suckers—to stop at a red squirrel midden,
to look here and there,
to look at each other,
and listen.

Soon those filigreed songs come ringing,
through the boughs,
and we bag a great bounty, trophy after trophy—
tiny cowled monks, trilling
their promiscuous prayers, which we mimic,
no doubt, to the amusement of God,

for it’s something like the smile of God I feel
out here,
something like a heavening of earth,
an empyrean anointing of oil flowing amber,
over me, through the smile, the squint, the lithe frame
that leans beside me on their walking stick.

At such anointing, there comes trembling.
Within all that speaks of home, an inexplicable ache
of homesickness,
within this blossoming, a budding sadness;
for the sun itself is filtered, or would otherwise kill us.

West, and home, with a covey of memories slung
from our belts: happy, is
the shape of a chickadee,
delight, are small ricocheting songs in our heads,
joy, is a flying choir at the retreat of the day
and two full hearts beating for more.



  1. This is beautiful Dad. I remember so many hikes, hunting for chickadees, for red-tailed hawks, for middens, for surprises we didn’t know we would find. I loved those times.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *