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Poetry

The birds are still asleep

A free verse poem about the early morning songs of backyard birds.

Save for the creaking of the house, it’s always quiet this time of day. The birds are still asleep; soon they will wake.

My dog hears me stir and presents herself at the back door, pawing to be let out. While I wait for her to do her business, I fix a cup of coffee; though, every day I question why. I’m a tea person, really. But the coffee maker is there in the corner as I pass by. It’s become a habit at this point. One that began when I had kids. In two hours, I’ll feel nauseous from the coffee and remind myself it’s my own doing and tomorrow I will limit myself to just one cup or I’ll drop the coffee entirely and switch back over to tea; and then I’ll do no such thing.

I hear the birds now, beginning their song.

“Are you okay,” says the cardinal to the Carolina wren.

“A beautiful morning,” the chickadee chimes in.

It’s so quiet this time of day. No hustling and bustling of human activity. No gas powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers whining, or cars and trucks zooming down the road to spend money somewhere, someplace.

Just the birds. Their morning songs are so beautiful. They are so serene to hear each morning as I wake.

I hear the nasally call of the Fish crow now (“uh oh”) and the distant caws of his slightly larger cousin the American crow abound. There’s humor in the contrast.

A mourning dove coos as I let my dog back inside.

“I’m not an owl,” I pretend he sings. “I’m not an owl. I’m not an owl.”

bird mourning dove

I’m not an owl!
I’m not an owl!

Listen kids, I do make a “hoo” sound, but I’m not an owl. I’m a mourning dove. That’s right, adults. It’s mourning dove with a -u. Not morning dove. I’m so misunderstood. Where is my friend the catbird? I’m sure he gets it. The kids think he’s a cat stuck in a tree.

By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, TheBody.com, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.

2 replies on “The birds are still asleep”

I think our ☕ situation sounds about the same. Every morning I drink one too many cups of Joe with regrets. I too think I need to drink tea. It doesn’t leave that yucky coffee taste. I awake with the coffee pot next to the sink as I add water to my water cup I drink upon waking each morning and the coffee process begins!

The sweet music from the many birds outside are a beautiful reminder of our Creator. I love their songs they sing especially after a goid rain when they can pull a worm right out of the ground with such ease to feed their young!

My favorite time of day has become the morning for the reasons you state. I will say I don’t usually rouse myself from sleep before the birds however.

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