Sturnella Magna

A few days shy
of eight months old,
you’re watching your hands
turn the laminated chart of local birds
we keep on the coffee table.
You guide it to your lips
and hold it there
for the few seconds you can
to gum the corner
featuring the Eastern Meadowlark,
supposed year-round bird
I’ve never seen.
Everyone’s gone
to work, and you and I
on the floor face each other
in our way of not
manufacturing custom
curtain rods or handling
customer service calls
or leveling ground
for an essential structure.
You’re giggling because
you can sit now
without tipping,
and when your hands disappear,
you can make them
come back.
And the Meadowlark’s song
I’ve found on a website
for you to listen to
autorepeats its pitch
of tiny hunger,
collected perhaps years ago
by a microphone hidden
in the grass near the opening
of its arch over nest
of woven weeds.
I’m just talking now,
my large little
starling, knowing English
carries only enough
to comfort you—
my words, like your fingers,
always arriving again
after they’ve gone hiding.

Jason Gebhardt’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the The Southern Review, Poet Lore, Iron Horse Literary Review, Crab Creek Review, The Ekphrastic Review and The William and Mary Review. His chapbook, Good Housekeeping, was a semifinalist in the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition and won the 2016 Cathy Smith Bowers Prize. He is the recipient of multiple Artist Fellowships awarded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He studies with Sandra Beasley, Stanley Plumly and Elizabeth Rees.