I was getting ready to send A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver [811.54 OLI] out on interlibrary loan to another New Hampshire Library. As I flipped through, this poem caught my eye:
When I lived in New York, I saw catbirds, but never a mockingbird. When I moved to this area, what looked to be a catbird-shaped bird, I soon found out was a Northern Mockingbird. The difference between the songs of the two birds is unmistakeable, especially with the Gray Catbird's cat-like call. I now love mockingbirds, but I've never seen a catbird around here and I miss their "mew."The Mockingbirdby Mary Oliver
All summerthe mockingbirdin his pearl-gray coatand his white-windowed sings
fliesfrom the hedge to the top of the pineand begins to sing, but it’s neitherlilting nor lovely,
for he is the thief of other sound–whistles and truck brakes and dry hingesplus all the songsof other birds in his neighborhood;
mimicking and elaborating,he sings with humbor and bravado,so I have to wait a long timefor the softer voice of his own life
to come through. He beginsby giving up all his usual flutterand settling down on the pine’s forelockthen looking around
as though to make sure he’s alone;then he slaps each wing against his breast,where his heart is,and copying nothing, begins
easing into itas though it was not half so easyas rollicking,as though his subject now
was his true self,which of course was as dark and secretas anyone else’s,and it was too hard–
perhaps you understand–to speak or to sing itto anything or anyonebut the sky.
Fellow librarian, Jone, is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Check It Out!
Photo by Jack Wolf.