Tree Top Tenor

Singing his arias from the top
of a red bud tree like a tenor
hoping to shatter glass, I unplug
my earphones and listen to his
mockingbird riff of blue jay,
cardinal, woodpecker stutter.

The way he struts his songs,
though hawks circle nearby,
makes me wonder: when
did I lose the courage to sing?

I remember warbling in front
of an old piano, plinking the ivories,
pumping my lungs to Natural Woman,
delirious with notes and reasons to sing.

When did I grow silent, believe music
no longer requires a throat? The gray
bird doesn’t peck an app, download
the Top Ten Avian Tunes.

When he rewinds his song book
and without changing feathers,
trills an oriole, I shape my soft lips
to the point of a beak and sing along.

My husband rushes from the house,
binoculars dangling from his neck,
and searches the trees for a strange
new bird he has never heard.

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About the Author

Carolyn Dahl is the 2020 winner of the Poetry of the Plains and Prairies chapbook contest for A Muddy Kind of Love, which will be published by North Dakota State University. Her 2019 chapbook, Art Preserves What Can’t Be Saved, was a first place winner in the National Federation of Press Women’s Communication contest, the Press Women of Texas’ contest, and also received an Honorable Mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards.

Carolyn Dahl
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