Everywhere we went, the animals came
as if called: barred owls from the tulip
trees, foxes from a tangle of wisteria,
mule deer from among the spun sugar
of cottonwoods, their tassels of winged
seeds billowing white like late snow.
When we lived in Florida, even the dolphins
came to see what we could do. This too
was an omen. And the gray calf, exact
miniature looped to his mother’s side,
was portent to our own child, his felted
forehead, marble-round belly, damp eyes
black as interstellar space. How to explain,
then, that we also found them dying
and dead: blue button jellies the color of sea
lying tangled in hundreds along the white
sand beach. A dog shriveled in the summer heat
to a bag of wet leather and tufts of still-
brown fur, its jawbone bright as a pearl.
And the birds. First, the northern flickerlying next to the front stoop, frozen
in a perfect shock of red and yellowplumage, its handsome chest spotted
with cream. And next, the fledgling our son
found fallen from the tree. He scooped it
into a box so tenderly, though nothing
can bring back a bird with a snapped neck.
I didn’t tell him, then, what’s lost often stays
lost, though it was past time to fess up
about moths and their summer divesinto streetlights, or the cat that carried the bird
from the box in a grip that was also love.
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