In the weeds along the path by North Pond,
not a mark on it, nothing but a bare line
of skin red and raw on the long neck resting
on a blood smeared stick. This is a chance
to look closely, take off gloves and stroke
the waves of feathers smooth and so silky,
webbing soft and flexible like good gloves,
hard bone claw at the end of every toe
like your grandmother’s nails.

Lift the narrow head in your palm, run fingers
over the ridged black beak, memorize the eyes.
It blends brown and beige with the fallen leaves
except for tufts of down caught on tall grass
like milkweed silk. Leave it there for the coyote
or raccoon or the local hawk. Take this as another
lesson in death—how it is mostly unexpected and
worthy of attention. Get used to the stillness
the tug at the heart that stays for a long time.

Suzanne Frank is a Chicago landscape designer and studies ornithology. She has been published in 10x3 Plus Poetry Journal, Sow’s Ear, Another Chicago Magazine (ACM), Stray Bullets: Anthology of Chicago Saloon Poets and Power Lines (Tia Chucha Press).