on that branch of the maple
where he often rests
between swoops
for bugs in the grass

bluebird
in the rain

today
in this sogging shower
he is not himself

looking at him out there
looking that way
he is ringing a bell

you never know
where or when a chime like
that will take you

I blink and find myself
at the side of
my father’s casket

he too
was not
himself

the color was wrong

like the bluebird

washed out
without vitality
the opposite of vibrant

and yet clearly
there

in the shoulders
slope of the neck
and shape of the head

unmistakably recognized
by eyes, heart, gut

that cherished face, torso
and the way those parts
flowed together
so familiar
so beloved

like this dear bluebird
soggy and gray
and just like my father
in the next instant
gone

 

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Laurie Lambert