I write down three facts about bluebirds—
each one on a separate scrap of paper
like fortunes that are sure to bring happiness.
The call of the bluebird, in Iroquois cosmology, is believed
to ward off winter. And because I saw two
on my morning walk, I believe spring is coming.
Their blue the color of billiard chalk or maybe sky
or maybe the blue of my mother’s winter coat,
which looked like a patch of sky
that day we hiked the beach in Beverly Shores and I could hardly see her,
thirty feet ahead, through the fog.
Bluebirds eat mostly berries and insects.
Sometimes, spiders, earthworms.
The oldest recorded bluebird lived for ten years—
died in South Carolina, November 1999.
Success, a good fortune will affirm, is failure
turned inside out. And because spring is coming,
I write down three facts about my mother:
that she worried about the weather—the hole in the ozone layer,
the storms that came at strange times.
She loved Lake Michigan—which was sometimes blue,
sometimes green and whitecapped. And bluebirds
which she hardly ever saw.
Lisa Dordal teaches at Vanderbilt University and is the author of Water Lessons, Next Time You Come Home, and Mosaic of the Dark, a finalist for the 2019 Audre Lorde Award (all from Black Lawrence).