Posts Tagged ‘Cathedral’

Songbirds live
in the old cathedral,
caged birds bought at the street market
and freed as a kind of offering.
Now doves and finches and parakeets
nest in the crooks of the nave’s highest arches,
roosting on the impossibly high
sills of stained-glass windows,
looking down into the valley of the altar
as if from cliffs.

Twice a day, you’ll hear them singing:
at dawn
when the blue light
of angels’ wings
and the yellow light of halos
flood into their nests to wake them;
and during the mass
when the organ fills
the valley below with thunder.
these birds love thunder,
never having seen a drop of rain.
They love it when the people below stand up
and sing. They fly
in mad little loops
from window to window,
from the tops of arches
down toward the candles in the tombs,
making the sign of the cross.

If you look up during mass
to the world’s light falling
to the arms of saints,
you can see birds flying
true blue columns of incense
as if it were simple wood smoke
rising from a cabin’s chimney
in a remote and hushed forest.

Richard Jones
The Blessing: New and Selected Poems 

Commentary:   I’m writing a new collection of poems, sonnets actually, all about birds. It’s called “The Bird-watcher’s Diary.” My mother, Barbara Holthuis, is illustrating it with pencil sketches of many different kinds of birds. We are planning a website to go along with it which will encourage young readers to develop the skills of observation and to apply those skills to bird-watching in the natural world.

Because of this work, I am very aware of birds and bird-watchers everywhere I go. I’ve had interesting conversations with other bird-watchers, like Lorrie yesterday and Ann a few days ago, both of whom maintain huge birdfeeders in their backyards throughout the year. Illinois is full of birdwatchers who often become bird caretakers as well.

So it was wonderful to discover Richard Jones’s poem “Cathedral” last night and realize that he was not only a fellow poet, but a fellow bird-watcher!  If I knew where his sanctuary was, I think I would try to go there to see these doves and finches and parakeets he mentions. His poem reminds me of the psalm says, “Even sparrows find a home, and swallows find a nest for themselves. There they hatch their young near your altars, O LORD …”

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