A big blue-gray bird, inscrutable
Unknown species, though he seemed
To know his way in the neighborhood,
Fluttered to land with the big man’s grace,
Nested outside William’s window
The October day he came home
From his farewell journey abroad.
It was the very same day Whitman left
His body in San Francisco, and so I have
Come to believe that bird was my beloved
Stopping to sit with his dying friend
On his own way out of this earthly life.
He had a gift for friendship, gathered
Friends around him every living day.
I begged William’s widow to send the bird
North after William had made his crossing,
But the big blue-gray bird was not of this earth.
He could not stay, he never came home,
I’m still here waiting in the place on the planet
Where we lived together so long, and so
At last I have come to believe he is gone.
Margery Snyder is a poet, flute-player & accidental photographer who pronounces her first name with a hard ‘g.’ She was born in Washtucna, a small town amid the dry wheatlands in the downwind shadow of the Hanford Atomic Reservation in eastern Washington state. She grew up in southern California, studied in Santa Barbara, Boston & Chicago, began her writing life as a short story writer and came to poetry only after she settled in San Francisco in 1985, and came under the influence of the poets of North Beach and Cafe Babar. She is the author of Loving Argument (Viridiana: SF, 1991), The Gods, Their Feathers (Blue Beetle Press: SF, 1993), The Secret Humming (Mel Thompson Publishing: SF, 1994), and Earthly Magic (Deep Forest Press: SF, 2001).