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Cedar Waxwing

I’m sitting on the front stoop of apartment
when a flock of birds interrupts my sadness
and guzzles up the berries on the tree next to me.
My neighbor walks by and in my new-found excitement
I show her the birds and she throws her arms in the air
as if she has just won something or her team
scored the goal or made the shot at the buzzer
and exclaims, I KNOW THOSE BIRDS,
and I join in her delight asking, then please, tell me,
and she tells me: Cedar Waxwing,
a group of which is called an “earful” or “museum,”
ironic because you must be thinking,
by now, what an earful to be hearing all about these birds
but at least I’m not telling you why I was sitting on the stoop
and why I didn’t want to go back into my apartment
that has become, yes, friends, a museum of my sadness
and it doesn’t take much to assume
why a flock of these birds would be called an “earful”
with their high-pitched trill but in all my searching
I can’t find or figure out why museum. But did you know
that cedar waxwings can get drunk from
berries that have begun to ferment and then smash
themselves into windows? But isn’t that like birds
to do anyway: fling themselves into the glass
and knock themselves to the floor.
Perhaps all birds are drunk, drunk, drunk,
clumsily cutting through the air on a bar crawl
from tree to fermented berry tree then smashing
into the glass and one by one swirling to the ground
but imagine the force of an entire flock breaking
through the window and it’s a mad, drunken
party of birds in my living room and they find me, too,
drunk on the floor and they swoop me up in their social whirl
and their trill is now the song that we dance to
and no one can tell us that it is not a song
and this time I don’t take the broken glass
and I don’t cut myself with it and I don’t
wake up in the morning regretting the pour and
the cut and the inevitable scar
and I go outside and sit on the stoop and say thank you
to the birds for being there.

Daniella Toosie-Watson

Daniella Toosie-Watson is a poet, visual artist and educator from New York. She was a 2020 winner of the 92Y Discovery Contest, a 2019 winner of the University of Michigan Hopwood Award for Poetry, and a finalist for the 2019 Frontier Open Contest. She has received fellowships from the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, VONA, the InsideOut Detroit Literary Arts Project, and The Watering Hole. Her poetry has appeared in Callaloo, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Paris Review, The BreakBeat Poets Volume 4: LatiNEXT and elsewhere. Daniella received her MFA from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program.