The Shape of Birds
for Diane Glancy

By Mary Christine Delea

It’s as if they are made of snow, formless,

or they are tiny ferries

emitting foghorn noises,

bleats that fall over us.

They do not soothe us with precise shapes

but come in many ways,

defying geometry, fluid,

becoming defined only when

they meet a fender, halo of headlights,

the truth of death awakening us

from the lull of driving and fancy.


And yet the birds,

suddenly airborne,

surprise us in their constancy:

they are everywhere,

changing shapes in the sky above,

us watching from our cars below

on our immense and angry highways

and we drive in tandem with birds,

making us nostalgic

for our own ancestral link to fluidity,

that time when water was close within us,

when shapes weren’t so constant,

when seeing birds brought omens and portents,

and, standing as unprotected as they,

we lifted our arms.