Poetry April 2012

Osprey

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Oh, large, brown, thickly feathered creature
with a distinctive white head,
you, perched on the top branch
of a tree near the lake shore,

as soon as I guide this boat back to the dock
and walk up the grassy path to the house,
before I unzip my windbreaker
and lift the binoculars from around my neck,

before I wash the gasoline from my hands,
before I tell anyone I’m back,
and before I hang the ignition key on its nail,
or pour myself a drink—

I’m thinking a vodka soda with lemon—
I will look you up in my
illustrated guide to North American birds
and I promise I will learn what you are called.

Billy Collins’s most recent collection is Horoscopes for the Dead (2011). He was the U.S. poet laureate from 2001 to 2003 and New York state’s poet laureate from 2004 to 2006.
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Billy Collins's new collection, Horoscopes for the Dead, will be published early next year. He served as the U.S. poet laureate from 2001 to 2003.

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