Three Poems ~ Tami Haaland

Scene: Late Summer

Long time since a bird slammed
into a window, though it’s the season.
Rowan berries are plump and birds
are feasting. This one, a robin,
fell flat on the porch then stood,
staggered, mouth open and panting.
Gradually his eyes brightened
and he looked almost ready to fly.
I returned to my papers, my watcher
having watched the revival until the bird’s
cheeping startled me upward again.
Why didn’t I think of the neighbor’s cat?

After my protector fumbled, my rescuer
went for the locked door and knew
it would be too late. My coward
suppressed a knot in the belly
and turned away until the cat
disappeared beyond the window frame,
bird in its jaw. Nature, I thought.
No, a well-fed cat, said my ironist.
My Romantic, who has always clung
to the losses and wanted the perfect
ending despite my editor’s cutting
remarks, cried, a poor robin gone

Sewing Room 1973

In the hot back room meant to be
a dressing room, as if dressing
had to be set apart, there were two
oak chests full of treasures, letters
and jewelry, and a heavy sewing machine,
dated and, according to my mother,

never quite right. I would sit there
on hot summer days, light pounding
from curtainless windows, AM radio
turned up on Gladys Knight and the Pips,
Motown hits, and Diana Ross, who was
the most beautiful woman ever,

and I made school dresses in bright
polyester, the subtle smell of sewing
machine oil an undertow, me in my tank top
and shorts, a sweaty kid taking destiny
in hand, dreaming up a future to the whir
of the open belt and chuffing needle.

Kelp Forest, Monterey Aquarium

Small leopard shark, do we
lean into each other? Your eye

and my eye, my curiosity
and yours? And you, lovely rockfish.

I see how some of you turn to the sun,
to schools swirling above you

or how you gather, an audience
for these faces facing in.

Baby watches me watching
anemones, watching tentacles,

humans schooling
like anchovies.

Living sand dollars,
darling stars and jellyfish,

humans must seem like
big-guy fish.

Baby ray reaches up the side
of its tank like a puppy.