Dendroica coronata

Yellow-rumped warbler

Claire Skinner



The Warbler


The yellow blaze of the wood warbler

begins to glow on the highest branch:


she perches, uncovered, snatching every bug

that floats by in the sunbright, winter wind,


occasionally calling a husky chwit,

chwit, unafraid, for the most part, of hawks.


Rough weather, it appears,

only brightens her color. I’ve taken to praying


at night, not much,

a word or two mouthed upon the sleeping altar


of your back, to the wide desert sky,

to a thorny, quiet mesquite


that’s taken root inside the red abandon

of my heart.


Small, toothed leaves, fuzz

of flowers in April, green pods—hanging velvet—in June.


My mesquite, lean

and bare in December,


and the hardy Yellow-rumped atop,

long-tailed and rather large,


armed with a stout, dark bill,

undaunted by winter, bustling forward


even as her kin (Hooded, Hermit,

Black-throated Gray) flee farther south


to tender hills of oversized flowers.




Claire Skinner is a student at the University of Michigan MFA program. She enjoys rhyme, couplets, semi-colons, and the occasional cliché.