The bird column in Star Tribune reported on the robins locally, in Minneapolis/St. Paul, on April 19, 2013, two days after I had written “Robins” first as a personal message to my friend and one-time professor, David Mikics, and then as my status line on Facebook. My mother relayed the bird column humorously at her birthday dinner April 21st. My sister sincerely doubted that male robins might fly together to a town to scope locations for nesting or that female robins might wait elsewhere in or near another town. The males were stranded in Minneapolis by snow, the article said. Most of the remaining snow had slipped away overnight, though it would snow again, through May. I had seen the congeries of robins and their claw prints in the snow for some days. On April 22, I posted the piece as a story (perhaps) or prose poem on Fictionaut. Poet Bill Yarrow minded a low rhyme (unintentional prose rhyme) in the first version, so I changed it and discovered a finer line, a call or response to William Carlos Williams’ “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower.” The gist is similar, news and prose poem, yet the prose poem finds a silence that eludes wider report.
Mina Loy wrote that it takes ten years to write a poem. This poem took twenty years to write thrice in about sixty minutes. Grace Paley said that all stories have at least two stories. The other story also happened to me; a tree filled with robins and it reminded me (then or later) of reading about Toni Morrison's tree of magpies. Robins filled the tree outside my bedroom window in Houston, hundreds of them. It was before we used the Internet, before we saw March of the Penguins. I did not know that male robins have slightly darker (black) crowns than females do or that male birds might gather in large groups, yet I knew as I peeked through the blinds that midmorning to seek the source of cacophony, and my cat knew, the robins were likely male.
Ann Bogle's fiction has appeared in lesser all-star and top underdog journals online and in print. For a complete listing of her publications, see her weblog, Ana Verse.
Pine nerves spike and row. A little calm in the snowy woods not news at first. It's April, so spring will be here again. Robins come, a man of robins, a steward of guards, march of hoof prints by the side-back door, they did not stay, picked another tree, another yard for their orgy—I was on to them. My mother saw just one in her yard.
by Ann Bogle