Ossuary

Baby Wren

Cleaning up the yard

After a lukewarm winter,

I took down the birdhouse

I bought at Target and

Painted a hopeful red

In a tribute to the spunk

Of my nephew Josh

Who, while assembling

A birdhouse in Sunday School

Dutifully sanded, nailed and painted it

A bright red and then

Wrote on the roof,

“I hate birds.”

When asked why

He had done this,

He replied, “Because I do.”

And he did and had for a long time.

No one had asked him his opinion

On birds before, so I suppose, so

It was just waiting to come out

All those years.

He was true to his beliefs,

And so I painted these words

On the roof of my birdhouse:

Josh’s Place, and thought it a

Fitting tribute.

I took off the roof to

Clean out last year’s nest

Where three baby wrens

Stretched their necks for food.

When they had grown enough

They flew away. That’s the way of birds

And other creatures. They were gone,

Or so I thought.

As I took out the dry grass and

Small twig remnant of what had

Been the birds’ home,

I saw in a corner what looked like

Small thin white stones.

I stroked one, and its consistency

Told me that it wasn’t

A stone, but the bones of one of

The fledglings who had not

Flown off into this world.

I put the bones back in their corner

And thought of burials

Over the ages, of pyramids

And cave tombs with rocks to seal

The entrance, of peat bog burials

And cremation on the Ganges

And burial at sea and grand mausoleums

Of ashes rocketed into space

And the remains of three cats

Buried in the flower bed

In our back yard right below

The limb where the bird house hung.

And so, taking the shovel I was using

To break up the soil, I placed

The tiny remains in a toothpick box

And buried them at the end of

My shasta patch, saying a silent

Prayer for all living things as I

Tamped the earth down.

Future generations of wrens

Will fly above their brother’s head

With wings made of feathers

While he flies somewhere beyond the

Horizon with wings of

Fire.

 

Dan Verner

March 25, 2016

 

 

 

1 Comment

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One response to “Ossuary

  1. I adore this poem, Dan. I will not forget the “wings of fire” line. It will stick in my head. It is beautiful. Thanks for writing with such insight, as always.

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