I know he didn't mean it when he said it.

I am pausing in the ditch on a walk by the railroad tracks,
completely surprised by strawberry blossoms.
From out of thin air—how in hell?
I pull my long sleeves over my cold hands and grip myself.

Here is the little story:
I had asked him about the chipmunk that I had impromptu-like
tried to baffle a few nights before by cutting a flower pot
and fixing it upside down under our bird feeder.
I meant, Did the little guy figure it out,
or who else might have visited earlier that day?


That's when he said it, "Just a sparrow."

What he really meant was—not an oriole.

A few nights before that, I had dashed outside while preparing dinner,
offering a cut orange that was beginning to wizen, on our garden table.
The oriole burnt our eyes as it arrived
like a cast sad-iron heated on a wood stove might.
We were used to the likes of
               pigeons, robins, American Sparrows, which once (we were so young then)
               we had to look up the name of, or occasionally a light dusting of yellow pollen
               from visiting finches,
so the oriole, our first ever,
had the sudden weight of a corona, spontaneously bursting and bright.

It only took one night for the citrus to be consumed.
The oriole flew.
And we were left again with
               pigeons, robins and just a sparrow or two.

I don't usually walk alone on such afternoons.
It's rare that we're alone, so we often spend this time being intimate.

Once, very early in our love affair, after our cells had shattered and flown apart,
as our names returned to roost in us, he wept, and I shook my head, Yes.

Later, we ate toast and fruit, and I wondered
if one day lovemaking would become ordinary.

Standing here amongst the strawberry blossoms, something vestigial
(as though tomentum coats my skin) begins to vibrate. There is a hovering.