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On a Cape May Warbler Who Flew Against My Window

She's stopped in her southern tracks
Brought haply to this hard knock
When she shoots from the tall spruce
And snaps her neck on the glass.

From the fall grass I gather her
And give her to my silent children
Who give her a decent burial
Under the dogwood in the garden.

They lay their gifts in the grave:
Matches, a clothes-peg, a coin;
Fire paper for her, sprinkle her
With water, fold earth over her.

She is out of her element forever
Who was air's high-spirited daughter;
What guardian wings can I conjure
Over my own young, their migrations?

The children retreat indoors.
Shadows flicker in the tall spruce.
Small birds flicker like shadows —
Ghosts come nest in my branches.

—Eamon Grennan

from What Light There Is and Other Poems, 1988
North Point Press

Copyright 1988 by Eamon Grennan.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of North Point Press from What Light There Is and Other Poems. Copyright 1988 by Eamon Grennan. For further permissions information, contact Eamon Grennan, Vassar College, Department of English, fax 845-437-7578.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Eamon Grennan (1941- ) is the author of 16 poetry collections, including There Now (Graywolf Press, 2016). Grennan was born in Dublin and attended boarding school at a Cistercian monastery.

Learn more about Eamon Grennan at The Poetry Foundation.