All in by Amy Watkins

by Amy Watkins

An osprey beats the wind with bowed wings,

steady till it drops and shakes in flight.

The wind catches and it rises again.

I watch from the porch where I’ve come early

to stop avoiding our father’s call. Last night,

I turned the ringer off then on then off again,

swiped down to ignore but texted back.

There are two birds in the tree across the street

and a third circling and circling, rising and falling

in the wind from a distant hurricane.

The phone rings. He wants to talk about you.

They say each bird attends to just seven others, and,

in this way, a thousand starlings turn together

like one creature. I’ll try not to make this a metaphor.

Once, you and I climbed the hills outside

Florence, Italy. Our dearest ones climbed with us

and, because we were few and each one loved

by all the others, I thought we made a kind of net

that might hold the breaking world together.

A murmuration of starlings unfurled like the aurora

borealis, a sheer curtain caught in wind,

twisting, tracing a path through twilight.

A hawk swoops low over the osprey nest.

I think it might land, but it doesn’t. You ask to meet

for coffee. Our father calls, and I don’t answer.


Amy Watkins grew up in the Central Florida scrub, surrounded by armadillos and palmetto brush and a big, loud, religious family—the kind of upbringing that’s produced generations of southern writers. She married her high school sweetheart, had a baby girl, and earned her MFA in poetry from Spalding University. She is the author of the chapbooks Milk & Water (Yellow Flag Press) and Wolf Daughter (forthcoming from Sundress Publications).