Poets Walk: "earls and dukes"
Location on Poets Walk Map: 29
A Man Learns to Fly by Peter Connors
In his younger years his father had toted him out to the bird feeder. It was brown,
bent, speckled with white droppings -- angled against all seasons. No mix was
sufficient to keep the lesser birds away: Old bruise-colored grackles arrived on the
scene. Meager starlings. Rusty female cardinals. At each new mix, elated, they
waited, but the loveliest of feathered winds never blew their way. And so the father
taught him to love the ugly ones. Named them after earls and dukes, invested them
with flight patterns to shame the baldest of eagles.
In the boy's front yard, truly, the meek had inherited the earth.
Such is the ornithology of family.
A boy flew away one morning to return a man to find his father turned to ash
beside a bag of grainy seeds. And this note: Help me to fly.
“A Man Learns to Fly” from Of Whiskey & Winter. Copyright © 2007 by Peter Conners. Used by permission of White Pine Press, www.whitepine.org