'Stone Bird' Pattiann Rogers' Firekeeper, where this poem is collected, won the 2005 Lannan Literary Prize for Poetry. The Colorado-based poet lends portent and beauty to the notion of an inanimate bird in this poem.
NPR logo 'Stone Bird'

'Stone Bird'

Pattiann Rogers lends portent and beauty to the notion of an inanimate bird in this selection from Firekeeper, a prize-winning collection originally published in 1994 and now out in a revised and epanded edition.

To mark National Poetry Month, NPR.org is featuring a series of newly published works selected by the Academy of American Poets. Learn more about this and other titles at the academy's New Spring Books list.

Stone Bird

Pattiann Rogers

I remember you. You're the one

who lifted your ancient bones

of fossil rock, pulled yourself free

of the strata like a plaster figure

rising from its own mold, became

flesh and feather, took wing,

arrested the sky.


You're the one who, though marble,

floated as beautifully as a white

blossom on the pond all summer,

who, though skeletal and particled

like winter, glimmered as solid as a bird

of cut crystal in the icy trees.


You are redbird — sandstone

wings and agate eyes — at dusk.

You are greybird — polished granite

and pearl eyes — just before dawn,

midnight bird with a reflective

vacancy of heart like a mirror

of pure obsidian.


You're the one who flew down

to that river from the heavens,

as if your form alone were the only

holy message needed. You were alabaster

then in the noonday sun.


Once I saw you rise without rising

from your prison pedestal

in the garden beneath the lime tree.

At that moment your ghost

in its haunting permeated every

regality of the forest with light,

reigned with disdain in thin air

above the mountain, sank in union

with the crosswinds of the sea.


I remember you. You're the one

who entered in through my death

as if it were an open window

and you were the sound of the serenade

being sung outside for me, the words

of which, I know now, are of freedom

cast in stone forever.

"Stone Bird" from Firekeeper: Selected Poems, by Pattiann Rogers, revised and expanded (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Pattiann Rogers. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions, www.milkweed.org.

Books Featured In This Story