Priscilla Long

For Winslow Long

I take my evening walk—rainy
streets, yards and garden fences. 
My walking stick's a daughter's gift, 
for I refuse a cane. I name the plants: 
fuschia, foxglove full in bloom. 
I make my way—then stop.
A pile of feathers, black, 
a chick, the gape a hungry pink. 
Above, in hemlock branches
two crows flap and yell, fly up and down,
distressed, their nestling nestless. 

No way to help. I think of my lost
child. No spring can salve
the loss in thirty years gone by. 

The evening's changed. The baby
bird's too weak to fly. I tell the crows
I mean no harm. I make my way

through May, through streets
that rain and rain. Whoever says
that man's above a common bird
has never lost a child.  

Author's Commentary: "His Daily Walk" is in the voice of my father, Winslow Long. He died in 2003 at the age of 91. He was a dairy farmer on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for most of his life (lived in Seattle for the last five years) and loved plants and animals. The reference to his lost child is to my beloved younger sister Susanne, who took her own life at the age of 40 in 1986.

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Priscilla Long is a Seattle-based writer of poetry, creative nonfiction, science, fiction, and history, and she is a long-time independent teacher of writing. Her book of poems is Crossing Over: Poems (University of New Mexico Press).