Accidental Birds

Two hummingbirds
spring from the holly bush
outside my window.
First, one. The other follows
as if to make sure I’ve seen
what I’ve seen.
Why are they still here
in the thick of winter.
And how did I go from peeling apples
to putting this pie in the oven,
remembering so much of my life
but none of the steps between.
–Cathy Mellett

How to Make a Feather

First, think of softness
and then small, fragile things.
Think of the stem,
the hard line extending
from one end and tapering
to the other.
Fill the place in between
with shafts of light and dark
and all the hues and aspects of both.
Add color if you will
but splash it on
in unexpected ways.
Think of the song
that goes with this feather
all the songs that came before
and will come after.
Notice how the wind
flows through it
rippling and ruffling,
how when the rain
washes over it,
it springs back.
How none of this changes it.
Think of light again
as in weight not color.
And there you have it.
It is almost yours.
–Cathy Mellett


“Accidental Birds” originally appeared in Cathy Mellett’s chapbook, Saturday Afternoon in My Kitchen and was reprinted with permission by terrain.org. “How to Make a Feather” originally appeared in Yankee.