Gerald Stern (February 22, 1925 -)
The dead warbler started to sing
as she whom I love
bent down to pick him up with two reluctant fingers,
maybe the small finger (of the left hand)
curling, as at dinner,
and carry him home
and quietly put him
into a see-through plastic bag
as she did for salmon and roast chicken and pie.
I want to say “alas poor warbler”
but warblers die too,
of disease, of age, of accidents,
as all birds do.
And like all birds
they sing when they’re buried,
in this case in the freezer,
a cold graveyard,
two cartons of ice cream,
one vanilla, one dulce de leche,
to remember him by.
He was lifelike stiff and unapologetic
and he sang from time to time, dead or not,
a “rising trill,” as the book says,
in the upper levels where the worms are.