Poetry

Bird Identification

A bird in the hand
two love birds
are three birds a flock or a murder
or just a pair and the one rejected
pair-less
a partridge in a pear tree
my father used to hunt partridge in the north woods
of Minnesota but they really weren’t partridge like
the ones you see in engravings or lithographs of those
twelve days in winter they were ruffed grouse and
on occasion my dad would scold my brother and I
for asking When are we going partridge hunting and
we would stop and repeat ruffed grouse turning aside
his rumbled threat but we would wonder
in that little thought bubble we used to share
before my brother hit puberty wasn’t it you
who taught us what to call those birds who
clung to the forest floor a brown-grey blur
of tree trunk and almost dead underbrush
dry pine needles and stones?