Winter and the Nuthatch
by Mary Oliver
Once or twice and maybe again, who knows,
the timid nuthatch will come to me
if I stand still, with something good to eat in my hand.
The first time he did it
he landed smack on his belly, as though
the legs wouldn't cooperate. The next time
he was bolder. Then he became absolutely
wild about those walnuts.
But there was a morning I came late and, guess what,
the nuthatch was flying into a stranger's hand.
To speak plainly, I felt betrayed.
I wanted to say: Mister,that nuthatch and I have a relationship.
It took hours of standing in the snow
before he would drop from the tree and trust my fingers.
But I didn't say anything.
Nobody owns the sky or the trees.
Nobody owns the hearts of birds.
Still, being human and partial therefore to my own
though not resentful of others fashioning theirs—
I'll come tomorrow, I believe, quite early.
"Winter and the Nuthatch" by Mary Oliver, from Red Bird. © Beacon Press, 2008 Reprinted without permission but with much gratitude. (buy now)