The Killdeer

by Lynne Paris-Purtle


On his first day of school,

my son sat on the bus,

his head stretched high,

to peer out the grimy window.

Around his neck hung

a plastic tag

with his name and address,

but he couldn’t read,

so he told the driver

over and over

who he was and where he lived.


I thought his fear was sweet–

of course he would come home.

“Don’t worry,” I said,

“We’ll watch Little Bear on TV,

eat oatmeal cookies, drink chocolate milk,

and you can tell me what you learned today.”


The bus gone,

I walked toward the empty house

carrying his panic like a chunk of ice

in my chest.


A killdeer startled and flew low

then landed, one wing askew.

“Look, I’m wounded,” she called.  “Follow me.”

In her nest exposed on the flat field,

the babies waited motionless.


I know that mother terror.

Danger circles the crib, the bus, the dorm room.

Faking a broken wing won’t




Lynne Paris-Purtle, MFA, MA is the author of Eggsistentialism: What I Learned about Life
from Chickens
, a memoir; Dragonfly Wings and The Hole in the Sky, poetry chapbooks; and
Seizure Lady, Psycho Man and the Jersey Boys, a collection of humorous essays. She has had
poetry published in Poor Yorick and essays published on the humorist Dave
Fox’s blog Globejotting. She teaches writing and literature at Western Connecticut State
University and Naugatuck Valley Community College.

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