Bird Country

by Claudia Buckholts Issue: Spring/Summer 2017
In the bird country, I feel hard beaks
peck against my skin, a hovering 

softness of down. Stubby feathers
sprout from my back and arms, turn 

into wings, and I shrink from what
I was. My new companions instruct 

me in flight, as they teach fledglings,
and gravity’s heft, how to soar through 

turbulent acres of air. I migrate with them,
wheel south to rainforests where dazzling 

relations warble exuberant scales, north
to the tundra to banquet on mosquito clouds. 

Song’s the habit in this country; each tribe
sings uniquely. I master what repertoire 

I can, trills, glissandos. With this avian
crew, I range scudding clouds, exchange 

tales of flight. In their tutelage, I explore
the tasks of air. We learn to love our 

brief bird lives, and the great winds
that sweep us across this world.


Claudia Buckholts

Claudia Buckholts has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and the Grolier Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Harvard Magazine, Indiana Review, Minnesota Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, and other journals; and in two books, Bitterwater and Traveling Through the Body.