Paula Bohince


Consider three orioles—

black and orange in virgin snow,

definite against vapor—


as a single oriole

with a triune nature:


one on the fence, divider

of gifts, another who is pure

ornament, posed stoically

on the fir,


and a third who is wise,

the oracle

playing against his fate—

dashing from feeder to feeder,

pummeling the seed bell.


I love these firebirds

for their toughness, for resisting

my usual lens of pity,


who frighten me

as the football players used to

years ago, in church—


their bruised bodies

suited onto an opposite field,

who stood among us,

alarmingly still.



“Oriole” first appeared in The National Poetry Review, Fall/Winter 2004.