Jim-1963
birds
by j.lewis

books portrayed
a thousand different birds
color-plumed beyond imagination
yet new mexico
would show me only two

feathered icons of a lonely world
seen through childish eyes

every day was presaged
     by dark depression
       as though poe’s raven
       had sadly adopted me
       sorry his first victim
       had slipped the noose of reality
     or by the common
       nondescript
       cheerful smallness
       that made chickadee and me
       twins of different species

so it was then
when my days were made
of two colors only
black
     as the crow flies
gray-brown
     as small birds pecking
     in the snow
     for seeds of happiness

new mexico
did not know
finches

PHOTOGRAPH: “The Chickadee,” age 12.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Not until I was an adult, trained as a registered nurse, did I begin to realize that I had suffered from depression as a child. During my childhood, the notion that children could have mental illness was considered silly, except in extreme cases, so there was never any thought given to my behavior, other than the exasperation of parents who already had too much to deal with. Looking back to that time of my life, it is clear that I had perceived it as being very bleak. My poem “birds” uses the darkness of a raven and the dull coloring of a chickadee to illustrate those feelings. I am fortunate that the depression didn’t stay with me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, and nurse practitioner. His poetry and music reflect the complexity of human interactions, sometimes drawing inspiration from his experience in healthcare. When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California.