. The Stonechat Listens at the Asylum Window I fear I might mistranslate what you said And lose the very essence of your words. May I record you as I do the birds: The warbler, shrike and wren, red’s wild-combed head Who can’t fly straight because his wings are strained By his erratic breaths—the young cock quail Who only knows four notes, the nightingale? Perhaps the mockingbird who has profaned The puerile bluebird to his detriment? I listen to them all here in the field Or from the house, the wood, the swimming pond, The deer-stand in the right-of-way, the tent I hid in, hunting, while my body healed— As you well know, from wreckage and its rent. You are the bird of paradise; I’m fond Of you beyond compare, despite your squawk When you were ill with me, the bedroom talk, Too colorful for feathers to respond. But when you left, it was the hardest thing, This separation. Distance has allure, It surely does. Migration’s not a cure. These days, your speech has turned to twittering. I asked if you were lonely; you said, no. I wondered if I heard you nearly right. I am the red-winged blackbird’s gulping tone, The swallow, swift, the collared dove, hoopoe— No, not the Merlin, hunting late tonight. I am the loon, I am the loon, alone. . . Charles Southerland is a farmer who writes poetry and short stories. He also makes and sells walking sticks, canes and shillelaghs. He has been published in The Blue Unicorn, The Lyric, The Dead Mule, Measure, Trinacria, The Pennsylvania Review, The Hypertexts, Expansive Poetry Online, The Journal of Formal Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, First Things and numerous other good poetry journals. He is American by birth and Scottish by heritage. He can trace his recent roots to the 1600s in Dunfermline and Torryburn in County Fife, Scotland.