That Red Bird of Love
—after Diane Seuss, “I Look Up From My Book|
and Out at the World Through Reading Glasses”
The poem’s final line: All forms,
the man wrote, tend toward blur remind me
of my dad, how he recedes into dense fog
and rarely speaks to me anymore.
He’d always say, Truth lies in silence.
Wearing that pensive look, he’d polish
his two pairs of work shoes early on Saturdays
while my mother slept. She was a dark bird of prey
who dreamed of small rabbits, lizards and field mice
through the best part of the day, when the moans
of fog horns on the bay merged with the murmurs
of mourning doves in branches of our mock orange.
No mock anything back then, only sharp, clean lines
and colors that kept their silence, bright and true.
No confusion in those days over truth’s location.
Truth was in my skinny legs that propelled me
to the door when dad came back from the laboratory
reeking of test tubes filled with alfalfa juice. Truth
was in his chemist’s hands that dropped briefcase
and lunch box, scooped me up, and pressed me
to that paternal breast where I found what was missing
in my mother’s milk. That man who’d rise in darkness
to lure the sun above the horizon, who later lullabied me
into dreams. When did his shape begin to blur, his colors
fade? How I miss him, my dad, that red bird of love.
Laura Ann Reed holds a BA in French/Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley and completed Master’s Degree Programs in the Performing Arts, and Psychology. She was a dance instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area prior to assuming the role of Leadership Development Trainer at the San Francisco headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She and her husband now reside in western Washington. Her work has been anthologized in How To Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, and has appeared in Blue Unicorn, Grey Sparrow, Macqueen’s Quinterly, and other journals.