Healing Poems 816

Remnants still visible

Robins migrate, all schoolchildren
learn but here on the Cape, every
winter a flock forms and stays,
long frigid months after their
compatriots have flown south.

They live deep in the woods on
hips and berries wizened by cold.
Sometimes they appear here
among the feeder birds, one
or two almost outcasts.

Off Alaska when humpback whales
leave in fall as the waters freeze
and the world turns white, heading
for mating grounds off Hawaii
and Mexico, certain whales remain.

What makes a creature stay when
almost all of its kind have moved on?
In burned-out areas of Detroit,
you’ll notice one house still wears
curtains, a bike locked to the porch.

Sometimes in the suburbs among
tract houses with carpets of grass
one farmhouse lurks, maybe even
with a barn. I imagine its owner
grey and stubborn, still growing

the best tomatoes for miles, refusing
to plant inedible grass, fighting
neighbors about her chickens,
a rooster who crows at four,
her clothesline a flag of defiance.

~ Marge Piercy

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