Speaking of Birds

My son points at a hawk & says Ha ha ha,

binoculars like a brick around his neck.

I know what he means.

Even songbirds like starlings stutter,

& he loved the idea that graceful, 

Shakespearean things could stumble 

over whistles & clicks. 

We discovered it in first grade 

when he told all the dimes to die,

before he learned to say something 

other than what he meant.

Instead of lotus he’d say low flower.

Goodbye became only a wave.

He could ask, Do I have what grandpa has?

He could say his tongue is anchored in his stomach. 

But there was a time he couldn’t say I love you

without an echo on the “I,” 

so he made his hands crack like a heart.

His eyes are never brighter than the days

we go out watching for birds. I can hear him 

speak & see exactly what he means. 

Under just the right conditions, 

he’ll shout Star star star star

& then stretch out his arms like wings.


Seth Peterson, a man in a grey shirt, sitting on a brown leather couch with his hands clasped. A potted plant is visible in the background.

Seth Peterson is an emerging writer, researcher, and physical therapist in Tucson, Arizona. His poems are published or forthcoming in Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Pirene’s Fountain, and elsewhere. He serves as an Associate Editor for JOSPT Cases and teaches nationally with The Movement Brainery.