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I'm a writer by trade. And by passion. I'm a lover of food, friends, and all things Boston. I listen to music pretty much 24/7 and idolize Martha Stewart. I love my job(s), my life, and this city. Follow me on Twitter! @Susie

the meaning of birds.

Back in Boston and dead tired, so I’m just going to leave you with my favorite poem from Charlie Smith. I first discovered this poem Junior year in college when I read it in an excerpt in Lorrie Moore’s Birds of America (such a good book!). The excerpted part (I’ve bolded it below) was so powerful to me, especially with stuff I was going through at the time. I am not really a big poetry person as I often have little patience for it, but sometimes I read a poem that really gets me, and this is one. I think everyone can get something out of this poem…at least realize that it’s never too late to be what you want to be. Ohhh I love being sentimental.


“The Meaning of Birds” by Charlie Smith

Of the genesis of birds we know nothing,
save the legend they are descended
from reptiles: flying, snap-jawed lizards
that have somehow taken to air. Better the story
that they were crab-apple blossoms
or such, blown along by the wind; time after time
finding themselves tossed from perhaps a seaside tree,
floated or lifted over the thin blue lazarine waves
until something in the snatch of color
began to flutter and rise. But what does it matter
anyway how they got up high
in the trees or over the rusty shoulders
of some mountain? There they are,
little figments,
animated—soaring. And if occasionally a tern washes up
greased and stiff, and sometimes a cardinal
or a mockingbird slams against the windshield
and your soul goes oh God and shivers
at the quick and unexpected end
to beauty, it is not news that we live in a world
where beauty is unexplainable
and suddenly ruined
and has its own routines. We are often far
from home in a dark town, and our griefs
are difficult to translate into a language
understood by others. We sense the downswing of time
and learn, having come of age, that the reluctant
concessions made in youth
are not sufficient to heat the cold drawn breath
of age. Perhaps temperance
was not enough, foresight or even wisdom
fallacious, not only in conception
but in the thin acts
themselves. So our lives are difficult,
and perhaps unpardonable, and the fey gauds
of youth have, as the old men told us they would,
faded. But still, it is morning again, this day.
In the flowering trees
the birds take up their indifferent, elegant cries.
Look around. Perhaps it isn’t too late
to make a fool of yourself again. Perhaps it isn’t too late
to flap your arms and cry out, to give
one more cracked rendition of your singular, aspirant song.


Perfect, right? Bed now. Busy weekend. Celebrating the roomie’s birthday tomorrow night with dinner and going out (and watching the Pats game somewhere of course. Can you say undefeated season??? I know Peter can). And of course, New Years on Monday. Trying to find a cute outfit to wear and catch up on missed work somewhere in between.

P.S. used the new blender tonight and made deliciousss smoothies (with vodka obvi). Have a feeling it will be getting a lot of use in the upcoming year!!

4 Responses to “the meaning of birds.”

  1. Peter DeWolf Says:

    I’m trying to like you. I really am.

    I don’t think I can watch the game tonight. It is already annoying me.

  2. nicoleantoinette Says:

    I’m so bored and would LOVE a smoothie (with vodka, obvi). Sigh.

  3. Virginia Says:

    That’s a beautiful poem! I’m not big into poetry either, but I have a go-to poem also. It’s “Hope” by Emily Dickinson. Funny how a few words can have such a big influence!

    Have a great weekend, hopefully full of delicious smoothies!!

  4. sp Says:

    Is this the entire poem? Beautiful, thanks.

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