Didactic by day, the ovenbird sings
another, more evocative melody just before dawn.
It sings about leaves that kept opening in the darkness
& the horizon drawing tight around the cabin.
The schoolmarm had been dreaming of other people’s children,
& woke with a head full of mucous & a pounding headache.
Her brother had taken the team to the back field,
left the sow to turn the garden with its snout.
She grabbed the ax and went to win back the sky:
girdling trees, he’d smirked, is no work for a man.
The rain came. A thrush started singing
from a branch that had yet to get the news of its death.
She circled a basswood,
fitting it with a bright new corset.
It probably helps to know that “Teacher, teacher” is the usual onomatopoeic rendering of the ovenbird’s daytime call.