Two Poems by Amy Miller

Martha, the last passenger pigeon, 1912
Enno Meyer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Last Passenger Pigeon (d. September 1, 1914, Cincinnati Zoo)

Eyewitnesses reported that skies darkened when flocks flew overhead on sunny days.

Martha, once a speck
in the abundance of her kind
became just one, last
in the alone
of her cage, dead
on a late-summer afternoon.

We loved a long while in a gentle
deep, our silence
kindling comfort. Your pulse
trembled my heart, my cheek
soaked up your sun
until
you receded into ashen sleep.

When I die, our final fastening
dispersed,
perhaps the skies
will lighten then.

 

The Parting Bed

Some come to
offer a keepsake, perhaps a good luck coin,
or bead or pale regret,
as words weary
in the shadow-shapes rising
on the shuttered window wall.

But you come quiet still.
There’s snow and pine about
your breath
though I can tell it shames you.

Silence sits kindly, but better yet
make up a tale, simple or true
the kind that starts with you
and me making bread, each step
from start to end or maybe
building snowmen in the sand
on Piper beach.
Then tell it twice and tell again.

My gift to you, your gift
to me a story, the light
within our leaving.

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