Feature > Poetry
David Baker

David Baker

David Baker is author of sixteen books, most recently Scavenger Loop (poems, W. W. Norton, 2015) and Show Me Your Environment: Essays on Poetry, Poets, and Poems (University of Michigan Press, 2014). He is Poetry Editor of Kenyon Review and teaches at Denison University.

Feeders, Birds

You held I hammered         
                                   you hammered I held
                         
our flat brown board          
                                    feeder stayed intact all

that winter on the      
                                   deck railing    we watched

alone      quietly or         
                                   shoulder by shoulder

at the window in         
                                   ice in blowing rain

snow and sun all the      
                                   hungry cardinals wrens

little brown birds  
                                  we called sparrows though

I think now they were    
                                   vireos nuthatches

once or twice ravens     
                                    tipping the balance—


                         *

                                   and the red one the           

next year we hung from
                                   the new maple new          

house      hand on the ground
                                  you had painted this

one     membrane is gone
                                  wild with green spirals

but mostly squirrels
                                 came down fewer birds

the autumn yard strewn
                                  all of it with corn-

meal seeds crusts torn hulls
                                  where are they you said

at the window where  
                                  might they be and the

next year we were gone
                                  too     so few birds now

starry rippling    few
                                  monarchs     all around

us
   no more ash trees
                                  and where should I go
                         
myself utterly
                                  away
such losses

I know says a voice      
                                  beyond here I know
                         
says without wings the     
                                  first song     starting once

more      from that distance
                                  beyond     every name—

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