A Collection of Poems: Cesspool (Spring Birds), and Hurricane

By Erin Covey-Smith

From the Author

I live with my husband in Freeport, Maine, where I run, garden, cook, make art, and try to be a good steward. Through the experience and sense impressions of my lived environment, I write to explore the liminal, in-between spaces of a polarized world and to wonder at the precarious balance of degeneration and resilience found therein.

Cesspool (Spring Birds)

Unmistakable birdsong, sun-warm and crisp,
natural awakening after unnatural rain,
rides the airwaves behind a news interview –
a Midwestern farmer lamenting a deluge,
record floodwaters laying fallow in his fields.

My ears prick and ring, senses quickening
as serenading birds flit in my yard, out the sun-
strewn window, warming their blood, conjuring
growth in the seeds they peck. While again and
always, the air also bears a burden: news
of a devastating cyclone in Zimbabwe.

I walk out into the expansive embrace of softening
breezes, and every cell welcomes the irrepressible
smell of dirt, soil ripening in the thawing meadow.

We winter-weary New Englanders welcome dirt,
its promising microbial stirrings as distant
geographically as chemically from cyclone-stirred
plague-ridden, family-rifting mud.

Such light-hearted, darkly woven songs:
those Midwestern birds borne over airwaves
dissipate in my mind, while those sharing
the sweet air I breathe trill here, here, here.

How does sorrow of such grand scales
slip so easily from the mind, like so much
receding flood water? Only, instead of leaving
destruction in its wake, it leaves birdsong,
heart-leaping wonder at wakening life

(and a cesspool of guilt at the
sloping edge of consciousness.)



I wanted to stop the storm; I couldn’t stop the storm.
It was bigger than me, and far away.

I did open the window, to better hear the crickets,
to feel the humid, stirred air,

which was something, at least.

This one, open-windowed world, pulsing
with distant storm, with serenaded sky
intimately glimpsed in the backyard:

You can’t fear one and rejoice in the other.

Or you can, you must. If you, too, are to pulse –
and you do, we do, diaphanous-skinned beings that we are –
one can’t course through you

without the other.

You must hold both to feel one,
You must feel both, and somehow –
here is the trick of it –

You must not break.