Jan/Feb 2016 Poetry Special Feature

The Juncos Return to Northwest Ohio

by David Oestriech

Artwork by Karen Fox Tarlton

Artwork by Karen Fox Tarlton

The Juncos Return to Northwest Ohio

It marks an anniversary, of sorts—eleven Novembers since,
bested by curiosity, I pulled the guidebook out, thumbed

through to find the proper watercolor, and matched it
to the trim gray birds that pecked along the fraying edges

of an early snowfall blanketing the yard. Today, though,
there's no snow, and sunshine, albeit slant, fills the

neighborhood. The juncos peep and titter in the detritus
beneath the pines. The walnut tree concedes a stubborn leaf

which rides the still air down, and when our carrier slams the
lid of someone's mailbox, all the birds launch toward

the treetops. A vision triggered: the Russian pilot parachuting
from his flagrant plane and seeing tracer rounds ascend. Out

of the fire, right back in. I know that Jesus said we ought to
love our neighbors as we love ourselves, but the Georges

are at work; same with the Wrights, the Simeons. The Joneses
left for Florida last week, we won't see them again until

the juncos leave. Tonight when we're all in our homes,
we'll tend to our affairs. Bono said we're trying to

throw our arms around the world. I can't even manage
the neighborhood. Eleven years ago our troops had

occupied Iraq for eighteen months. No one ever said
war we'd always have with us; no one need.


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