Margaret B. Ingraham is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets
Award, the 2006 Sam Ragan Prize, and seven fellowships from the Virginia
Center for the Creative Arts. Her chapbook, Proper Words for Birds,
published by Finishing Line Press, has been nominated for a 2010 Library
of Virginia Award in poetry. Her book entitled This Holy Alphabet was
released by Paraclete Press in December 2009. She lives and works in
Alexandria, Virginia (USA). To read more of her poetry and view her
photography, visit


Throughout the morning
the ordinary ravens
craving notice circle
and hurl their shadows
on hard March ground.
In the broad afternoon
some invisible bird,
trilling an unfamiliar tune,
hides in the privet, forsythia,
curly willow, oak, poplar, pine,
incites our curiosity,
invites us to come outside
to find it, frame it, call it
by its common name,
claim to know its song.
After hours of searching,
watching, waiting,
traipsing the close woods,
none of us can,
no one at all.

Recalling the Indigo Bunting

Show me those pictures again,
the one of the Indigo Bunting
and the one of your father
as a young man dressed in camouflage
with his army-issue field glasses
in his hand.

Tell me that story once more,
how all you longed for as a boy
was not to hold what he possessed,
to have a baseball glove of your own.
Tell how you swore you would never
watch the birds.

Recount it again if you can,
if you will, with the same
tenor and pitch in your voice,
the thrill when you discovered
how lens could bring you closer
revealing intense color.

Like bunting, take memory's wing
to navigate by oldest stars as spring
nights fall across dark continents
and in fathers' dialect recite
the migratory call to reclaim
your territorial home.

Show me those pictures again.
Tell me that story once more.
Recount it again if you can.
Like bunting, take memory's wing.
Possess what is your own.
Recall the Indigo.


It's not that polar bears
seek anything to fill
fur's hollow shanks.
Instead they shed
what they receive about,
reflect slanted arctic light
turning transparency
into ermine white.


He dug the holes and set
the posts himself,
laid out alone, and rail by rail,
the fence he thought to be
the perfect barricade
to protect his private trails,
the winding brooks,
the handsome woods
he'd purchased for himself.
He nailed the keep out signs
at intervals to the trunks
of the oldest trees, the ones
through which the does--
the bold one first,
the others shadowing--
would steal and nuzzle
the thinning leaves before
they cleared the fence
and crossed his lot against
sheer morning's glistening grain.

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