Susan Carroll Jewell: “There Will Be Birds”

Susan Carroll Jewell, “There Will Be Birds,” 2021 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize Finalist selected by Judge Alexis Rhone Fancher

This beautiful, heart-rending poem careens to a remarkable conclusion. Hitchcock’s film, The Birds, shares space with flamingos, seagulls, nighthawks and black birds, culminating with the sparrow announcing the mother’s death. Gorgeous, devastating. And that last line! Such a beautiful, heart-rending poem.

— Alexis Rhone Fancher



There Will Be Birds

Cackling laughter at jokes about tits
and that creepy Hitchcock film,
the hieroglyphic ibis, postcards
of pink flamingos and swallows
and, oh, the seagulls and blackbirds
in this photograph and the next one, too,
why are there always birds?
We eat wings and drink cream ale
from green cans, nighthawks eight miles
high, laughing at mortality, oblivious
of the sparrow in the upstairs bedroom,
the spirit messenger beating against
the painted walls, announcing
our Mother’s death. I slit open
cards of condolence and look past
pictures of mourning doves.
When the Earth ends for us
the sky will still exist, the air
will thicken with flight
in the canary-colored haze,
and there will be birds.

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