Gianna's Voice




I heard her crying from the ancient oak,

the tree where a hive of bees

had set up shop huge as a fruit crate.


Eating lunch on the veranda did I see her

drifting on the updraft?

I’m not sure, but I could hear the hawk

announcing her intentions like a magician.


Weeks earlier I had walked beneath the sister oak

as three work men stared up at the resurrection fern.

When I asked, they pointed and there

I saw the nest, high as a wish.

Moments later she swooped up through the branches.


But the day I heard her cries pierce the afternoon,

I thought how she’d kept her house there all those weeks

and wondered about her chicks.


In the meantime, someone had stolen away

the bee hive: not a keeper who cut it away from

the high trunk and carted it off to some safe haven.

No, it was the bug man, with his poison stick.

The bees rained down by the hundreds on the sidewalk,

their honey-casket thrown in the trash.


This day, I heard the hawk’s hunting lament,

but didn’t see her, no, until thunk!

The antique brick and glass of our building

shivered in summer stillness and a brown rag

somersaulted from the second story into the flower bed.


I rushed to the edge of the porch

and peered into the bushes.

She lay there shuddering, on her side,

one wing at a fluted angle, eyes open, feet stiff.

I ran to stand over her—

called animal control, got a wrong number,

flagged down a stranger who told me,

Stay back, she just stunned, she could take your face off!

But then she stopped.

I bent in close and saw her stilled breast.

Above, the window held a mirage

of summer sky and cumulus.

And this whole time I’m thinking,

It’s three weeks today that Mom’s been dead.

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