George David Clark

After Making Love We Hear Birdsong

It’s been a pretty athletic performance,

if I do say so myself, and as we finish

I’m winded, just holding Jennifer close,

and about to start kissing the salt off her neck

when the birds pipe up at the window.


All night we left it open to the breeze—

more than warm already now at six am

this August Tuesday—and a motley flock

has gathered on the sill, just as pretty

as you please. There’s a blue jay thrusting

his hips and warbling what sounds like

“Lay Lady Lay,” and there’s a mockingbird

with a long, clear, hot-damn whistle,

a cardinal couple too, and three gold finches

bobbing and puffing out their chests

to whoop and coo. A pair of humming birds

leer in over the other guys’ shoulders,

not singing themselves of course, but flitting

back and forth with their long tongues out,

licking air in what is clearly vicarious pleasure.


It’s flattering—I won’t lie—this Disney treatment,

but just as I turn laughing, “can-you-believe-this?”

to Jennifer, I see our tender children

at the bedside with their big eyes glistening

in a soft “oh-my,” and when the five-year-old,

Josh, sees me see him there’s syrup

in his smile and he says, “Daddy, that was beautiful.

Momma, you are so, so beautiful, and Daddy,

when you threw Momma in the air

and spun her sideways I was scared,

but it wasn’t scary really, scary beautiful,

and I want to be like you when I grow up.”

Little Ellen goes, “Momma, you’re a pwincess,”

and then she does her darling arabesque—

you know, holding one leg up behind her,

tilting her head: from El that means pure respect.

Baby Phillip’s too little to talk or even crawl,

but he’s rolled in here somehow

and he’s on his back just giggling and cheesing

the way he does when he’s freshly nursed

and I tickle his soft round belly and sing.


You know, their support makes me think

maybe we’re doing something right as parents,

but still, it’s our children, so I reach back

to pull the sheet up over our nakedness,

and then there are our neighbors,

Bill and Sharon in the doorway

with these huge grins on their faces,

and Bill’s giving me the big thumbs up,

and Sharon, flushed, says, “Wow,

you guys, wow! Now that is it! That is sex!”

and there’s our mailman, Mike, behind them

on tiptoe and others too behind him,

some of them hooting, and one woman

calls out she was worried we’d snap

the headboard and then everyone’s laughing

and cheering and acting out their favorite parts

in slow motion right there in our upstairs hallway.


And Jennifer and I are laughing too now,

humbled by the generous applause,

but also proud and happy, finally, to be recognized

for this gift we always knew was special,

and then in a blitz the birds are swirling

through the room, landing on the dresser

and night table and the bookshelves:

snowy owls, and a cockatiel, and two swans

by the dirty clothes basket, knotting their necks

in a bow and fluting, and last, this peacock

that must weigh fifty pounds comes sailing in,

screeching a half-baked rapture that chills us all

as he fans his tail and quivers mightily.

And in the midst of this display Jennifer rises,

smiling that coy queen-of-the-moon smile of hers,

and she takes my hand and pulls me up

and we bow, and I don’t know if it’s sweat

and the shine of exertion or what, but our hair

and our loins and our eyes and our teeth

and everything, everything’s glowing.



“After Making Love We Hear Birdsong” first appeared in Southern Poetry Review, vol. 54, no. 2, 2016.