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Bird Left Behind

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As for her, the circumstances must be ordinary
And so the return. Door unlocked. The path mowed
Right to the oiled gate; the pasture

Cleared of stone and alder. All untouched
Enough to enter. The man or woman
Off down the valley or working above

Treeline. No other sound but a few strays
Hurrying through the dusk as if the end
Will begin, certain and with nothing

More to say. She does not know she does not know.
Having come back to find her kind
And none being left she took herself up

Into a tree unclear what to do next save only
Sing the song she wanted sung back to her.


Source: Poetry (May 2011)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

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Bird Left Behind

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  • Raised on a small New England farm, poet Sophie Cabot Black received a BA from Marlboro College and an MFA from Columbia University.
    Black’s collections of poetry include The Misunderstanding of Nature (1994), which won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and The Descent (2004), which won the Connecticut Book Award. Black’s lyrical poems are both revelatory and elusive, exploring a landscape sharpened with grief and devotion. As a reviewer for the Los Angeles Times Book Review noted, “Sophie Cabot Black . . . is absolutely direct and absolutely removed—a strange confluence of tones that is both intellectually provocative and deeply moving."
    Black’s poetry has been anthologized in Best American Poetry and Never Before: Poems About First Experiences (2005). Her essays have been included in Wanting a Child (1998).
    Her honors include the Grolier Poetry Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s John Masefield Memorial Award, as well as...

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