European_Robin_Singing-1Ten, and half in love
With a boy in a book.
He had the gift
The gentle way to tame
A bird or timid creature.
Like him, I fancied I could
Win the confidence of a bird.

Common or garden,
The robin did me no favors
His curiosity, age-old
Had him poking his beak
In gardeners’ business
Long before my time.
Still, I flattered myself
He liked the lilt in my voice
And the soft whistle through half grown teeth.

With the patience of a heron
I stood unmoving
In blackberry scented air,
Hand outstretched with
Crumbs for a peace offering.

Cocking his head on one side

He hopped

            And hopped

                        Tossed aside a fallen leaf

            Pretending business

One beady black eye on me
All the while.
He came so close
I could see
The fluttering of his red breast—
And no closer.

He sought me out
The next day and the next.
Down at the beech tree
We grew quite chatty
The pair of us . . . never understanding a word the other said.
I wonder if he boasted
In the hedgerow
Of the strange human child
He’d managed to beguile
With his soft chirps and bright eyes.


16 thoughts on “TAMING A ROBIN

  1. kikirosner

    Love the “Tossed aside a fallen leaf…Pretending business…” ! Can just see him do that, Ah! those birds…

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Yes, bird behavior is so specific to a species, and Robins are known for being particularly up for social interaction with humans.

  2. Sunshine Jansen

    This poem is a marvel. The shape and the movement of it captures the nature of curiosity, bold and tentative in turns. And the magical realist in me absolutely loves your parting question… Also, having “the patience of a heron” is a serious commitment for any kid; I’m so glad it was rewarded! ^_^

  3. burlwhitman

    Oh my, I like this very much. It reminds me of Thoreau. His best poems were prose journal entries showing his delight in merging all his senses with nature and other creatures in a simple way, without guile.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Thanks for your very kind words. Probably like most would-be writers out there, I write first and foremost for myself. It comes as a nice surprise when a piece also resonates with others.


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