When the blackbird perched on the reed
called across the marsh and the call
was returned, at last I looked up and said,
If love is to be my sermon, please help me
give it clearly. A lonely airplane cut the blue.
The reeds were lit golden in the late-afternoon
and the blackbirds, as they crossed the water,
spread their wings, the bright persimmon
of their shoulders flashing like a child’s drawing
of a shooting star. Of course we’re suffering.
Just as surely as I walk this path each morning.
In fact, I was here, under this tree,
when a friend called to say her father had died.
And, a few years later, when she called to say
her son wouldn’t sleep through the night,
I was also along the marsh. I love her.
I love that we’ve known each other since
we were sixteen. I love that these birds
and I have a history, how the willow drips
green to its own reflection unashamedly
in love with itself and the way we never know
if we’re loving as deeply as we might—
even that. On a good day, even that.
Chelsea B. DesAutels is the author of A Dangerous Place (Sarabande Books, 2021), a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Chelsea has received fellowships, scholarships, and residencies from the Anderson Center at Tower View, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Tin House Workshop, and others. Her work appears in Copper Nickel, Massachusetts Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere, and has been featured on The Slowdown podcast. Chelsea lives with her family in Minneapolis.