merlin in flight

This is a Merlin in flight, actually hovering.  A Merlin is a species of falcon, bigger than a robin but smaller than a crow. They’re rare around where I live, but I’ve seen them at Cape May.


Something I read today, or something someone said today made me think about ghosts walking around in buildings. I don’t mean literal ghosts or even those movie ghosts such as the ones in “The Sixth Sense.”
I mean that , having lived into my sixties, I know many people who have died.  I remember many of them quite vividly.  At the university where I teach, I remember four men who have died , and who walked the sidewalks I walk today, who sat in the classrooms where I teach. They are the ghosts I’m talking about.
ghost in hallway
When I return to my home town for a visit, more ghosts come to mind, particularly the ghosts of my parents.   There’s no good way to describe this sense. But I did write a poem a few years ago which hints at it:

Merlin on the wire on Bayshore Road


The memory moves faster than the pen.

The merlin lands minutely on the wire,

But flashes off in sunlight as I near.


Behind my eyes are attics full of rooms

whose only access lies in photographs.

The merlin lands minutely on the wire.


That window overlooking maple trees,

where winter sunsets blazed in molten red,

It flashes off in sunlight as I near.


The snowbird that I rescued Easter day

lay stunned but blinking, heating up my hand.

The memory moves faster than the pen.


The morning kitchen silence breaks and hums,

The rubythroat appears, and chirps, and drinks,

he flashes off in sunlight as I near.


The face of one long dead begins to form.

I see his thick brown hair wave in the wind,

He flashes off in sunlight as I near.


The breath of God upon my neck, so clear

and sudden once in one of those close rooms…

The memory moves faster than the pen.


I reach into the ocean’s briny mouth.

My hand emerges empty, wet with tears…

The memory moves faster than the pen.



Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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