I should be in awe of the living

an illustration of a bird with a minnow and a dear and another bird inside of it.
Art by Kristina Closs

“Litany for the Animals Who Run from Me”

Anything can be a bird if you’re not careful.
I should say something nice about the weather.
I should be in awe of the living, but the world dulls
when I step into it. The squirrels scatter, the branches
lift. Sure, I’ve hurt the ones I’ve loved
by not paying attention. Not alone — never alone
is a lesson I need to understand. It was you who said that.
It’s you still. You who says, Look! You who points
to the sky. You who tilts my chin toward the heron,
who cups the minnow in your hands,
who spots the deer miles ahead, who dulls
the world with your absence. You who says, Look!
& when I look, you are gone, replaced
by the whitetail’s hind legs, fading into the bush.

by Hieu Minh Nguyen