A robin slammed
into my window last night
with a sound like a shot.
The room shook
as she flew full throttle
into a mirage of clear blue freedom,
only to meet a blow equal to her power.
I ran to find her on her back,
wildly thrashing, her tail
a flashing gray fan
against red bricks,
her legs bent awry,
before she stilled.
My heart broke a little,
caught again
between love and helplessness.

I thought of my mother
watching me soar into first marriage,
knowing  the danger.
At the wedding, her face betrayed
her fear it was a funeral.
Nonetheless, unasked she’d cooked for days,
platters of her flaky piroshki,
thin buckwheat blini
with sour cream and caviar.

At times our loved ones fly,
fueled by fervor
and innocence, towards a phantom.
Do we hold our hearts open?
Do we stand at our stoves for them?
Can we love ourselves, give thanks,
when we stand again on wobbly legs,
shake our wings, head for
another piece of sky?
Do we pray for the robin
who collided too soon, too hard,
who lay cold and alone,
carried off by a predator in the night?

– Anna Belle Kaufman


Detail from Florilgeum by John Marshall, c. 1650