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Praise

With its pursuit of the beautiful as glimpsed in the body of a bird, Susan Edwards Richmond’s Birding in Winter evokes the excitement of discovery, the passion for the wild and unique essence that calls to us, that thrills us.  Biding their time with a precise imagery and carefully crafted line, these poems bring the natural world into focus, while staking their claim on joy. “Empty yourself of expectation,” says the poet, and we follow her willingly, finding again and again in this accomplished book all that “shimmers and shimmers. --Joan Houlihan, Ay

Susan Edwards Richmond’s graceful, lyrical poems are about what they say—snow geese, loons, wood ducks, birding in winter—but of course like all successful metaphors, they make us look deeper, beyond the seen to the felt, the “tangled night” of relationships, “the ravaged world” into which the dove has been released.  Richmond’s birds are emblems, but also their own mysterious selves.  --Lawrence Raab, Mistaking Ourselves for Ghosts

 

Birding in Winter

Empty yourself of expectation,
the flutter of common creatures.
Nothing will be close.

Leave behind pencil and list.
But keep the book.
Be sure your layers match the earth—

silk sheath for ice,
wool for snow,
down for air, 

master the cold
with the same firm hands
you raise each year to the spring.
 
Then be prepared
to stand immobile for hours
in the snow fields

where the temperatures
hover lower
than a harrier’s flight.

Be prepared to read nothing
but patterns, configurations, the absence
of color in coverts and wings.

Go alone if you can,
or with someone who shares
your aptitude for patience,
 
someone who can gather in
her own silence, as the scope
pans ice floes, as the flocks recede

and the air
at the edges of sight
shimmers and shimmers.