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Mainly Birds

The morning my sisters phoned me
told me she’d gone, I went
up and taught my class
—last of the week
    she’d have wanted me to—
As I went to lock my bike
I heard a warbler and
there it was, yellow
on its branch as nothing else
and I thought of her
her bright little soul
perched in a tree.
Easy to imagine.

Three years later on her birthday
I walk with my family, granddaughters
looping the path along the river,
new growth full of every bird,
yellow warblers on branches enough
to spot easily, show the girls
the catbird, towhee, song
sparrow, she loved them all,
loved them for being
birds. Maybe a soul in a tree,
but mainly birds.



We didn’t hate it
Weren’t going to eat it
make its hide into mitts
or moccasins
it was strange to us
if cornered, so told
much bigger than a gopher
the gun we stole much bigger
than what we used
on gophers, the point
now we had the gun
kill something big
But it didn’t come out
of its hole, obey
I aimed
at a fence post, the itch
to kill blew
me into the ditch
blew out your hearing
the whole way home
shouting at you how
to un-steal your father’s gun

 © William Robertson
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan



Photo Credit:

There it was, yellow on its branch as nothing else… Andrew Weizel photo, Wikimedia Commons

Did you know ..

right now, Yellow Warblers are enjoying beautiful weather in Central and South America. But it won’t be long–just a matter of weeks– before they begin their slow return north. We can hope to hear their sweet-sweet-I’m-so-sweet song by late May.


Author: William Robertson

William Robertson is a poet, university English instructor, freelance writer, reviewer, and broadcaster. He has published five collections of poems, the most recent of which is Decoys (2017), and a biography of a singer, k.d. lang: Carrying the Torch (1993). He has edited two collections of his Indian Teacher Education Program students’ creative writing, the most recent of which is Where I’m From: ITEP Creative Writing 2005-2013. He has also contributed chapters to books on fishing and on the literary history of Saskatchewan.