A Bird in the Hand

Meghan Dunn

A bird in the hand
, my mother always says.
But I think it depends on the bird and the hand
and the nature of the holding.
And in this lesson, am I the bird or the hand?
The bird placid, easy to catch.
The hand greedy, snatching at anything bright.
Either way, an insult.
There’s more dignity in being the bird,
but this may be another way I am wrong.
Meanwhile, let's not forget about those birds in the bush.
So in love with the bird in hand, its small heart
under our thumb, it’s easy to forget them,
those birds. But they’re still out there,
neither caught nor catching,
not together but neither alone,
slender claws gripping slender twigs,
sidling to the bough’s bend, which dips
them to the stream where they drink
and fly away and never return.