It sweeps and arcs across my path
almost every day on my walk to the cafe,
under sun or cloud, its red
seeming lit from inside, a brightness
bold as the lipstick my mother wore
no matter the day or the time,
no matter how close to the end
she got, even two days before the last,
the young dark-haired nurse applying it
for her while I sat nearby, my own
lips trembling, from fear or hope
I could not tell, I could not separate anything,
and can’t now either — the bright flame of this bird
recalling me to loss, or to joy.

This poem first appeared in Marrow of Summer, by Andrea Potos, published by Kelsay Books.