Nesting


By Ruth Daniell

Paleontologists recognize skeletal similarities
between dinosaurs and birds, including the neck,
the pubis, the wrist, arm and pextoral girdle,

shoulder blade, clavicle, breast bone. Hollow,
pneumatized bones: the presence of air spaces
within skulls just as my own sinus bones

aid the resonance of my human voice.
Meanwhile, entire bodies of birds are made of songs.
Like dinosaurs, they carry pebbles in their stomachs

to do the work of teeth. Research shows, too,
that dinosaurs, like birds, had the desire
to build a nest, to brood. Fossils prove

that dinosaurs slept with their warmed heads
tucked under their arms, like today’s flourishes do,
folding themselves in the softness of trees—

their narrow bodies collections of barbs
and contours and chokes of iridescent colour. I know
that birds are dinosaurs, old, that their origins

reach back into the Mesozoic Era we imagine
into textbooks—but when in spring the robin
comes, redbreasted and nodding,

it is easy to accept she is brand new,
come wholly original to juxtapose herself
against my ungreen garden and the dirt

of my ordinary life. To assert the existence,
somewhere near, of blue eggs and the sometime-
brilliance of our brooding behaviours.


Ruth Daniell is the 2016 winner of the Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest with The New Quarterly and a recent recipient of a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. She lives in Kelowna, BC, where she is at work on a collection of poems about birds.