Poems by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

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Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis)

by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

From Canary Winter 2017-18

Diane lives and writes poetry in Philadelphia in the Tookany-Tacony/Frankford Creek watershed. She delights in watching the return each winter of Dark-eyed Juncos to her garden and, during walks at work, the visitation of various flocks of Canada geese.

They come unannounced – eight to a dozen
bursting white breasts out of black feathers
these whirl wings of winter
as if they are wearing long-tail tuxedoes.

They are marvelous; they are wondrous.
From every angled direction infiltrating
my small city yard. First time I have
ever seen these migratory Canadians

and believe they carry light within them
under radiant white shields that they wear
on dazzled breasts like joy of some sort.

They have made winter new somehow,
even magical, like today under dull dome
of bleak light, pale and gray, thick
as an elephant’s hide. The way their

cotton-candy-colored beaks take turns
pecking and unpecking a Christmas cake
thrown out to them this morning -
baton branches of dogwood swaying

in musical wind, where they eat. Some drop-
dive from cliff of air onto a snow covered lawn
soft as a trampoline; several hurdle a five foot
adjoining fence then swoop low; from atop

garage others hang-glide; and with ease of a trapeze
artist, one sits within wiry diamond of the cyclone
fence. Then one and another as miniature magicians
seem to make themselves disappear -

breasts camouflage as snowy branches
far enough away in morning-light’s mixture:
flurries and snow dust swirl sparkling silvery
ash twirl into ghostly dance.

It’s as though their poppy seed eyes of black globes
hold the whole of creation in their small steady stare.
Entertaining as live theatre. I watch this
unfold and refold itself for nearly two hours.

Mind filming through lenses of my eyes
as your eyes move across this page
as if you were watching a scene
now frozen into the window pane of this page.

Unto the Heavens these Canada Geese

(Branta Canadensis)

by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

From Canary Fall 2017

For years while passing through a field,
I watched different flocks of Canada geese
intermittently stop to rest from long migratory

flights, whereby reverently bowing the reach
of black beaks tugging at clumps of grass, often they’d
drink appreciatively from a reforming puddle.

Their webbed crisscrossing footprints
like fading fossils left imprints on my mind
holy as the presence of unseen angels.

Yet today while walking, a close-knit flock
in their nasal-tonal tribal Anserini language
honk a loud and urgent responsorial.

One goose to each of the others in the flock -
a loud honk and honk response / honk and honk response
as I stood muddled by this mystical ritual.

Relations of the Anatidae family of swans
their graceful black necks attentively raised
as if they were listening or looking
for something I could not hear or see -

Their choral leader’s croaking honk
of fog-horn urgency drew me in,
much the way a cat’s cry mimics an infant’s.

As if there is a universal cry of distress
in every language for every living creature,
and these geese soldiers stood guard

inside this landing party’s circling, constantly
responding to their tribe leader’s trembling
and agitated honk -

then like an apparition appearing from out of the heavens –
outstretched wings arriving - these two late comers – squawking loudly –
guided by the sounds of those unceasing calls

unto the heavens from lower ground,
as hang-gliders dropping
their long-legged landing gear –

release of webbed feet touching down
straight into the mist and I believe
each one’s black-beak-peck

onto another waiting goose,
a sacred kind of kiss between them
as if lost lovers reunited.

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