Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate

Today the incomparable Mekeel McBride of Kittery describes the singing of the mockingbird.


By Mekeel McBride

The mockingbird’s a live encyclopedia

of song, Listen, it can be

the whole world humming to itself:

tinsel consonant of wind

in love with whatever its silken glove

touches, never touches,

and then again it’s just the normal chatter

of thrush or grackle.

The mockingbird’s own song? Difficult

to hear in this aria that includes

news from every absent bird,

but slightly richer. All night

it stays awake, slipping its glad opera

into the delicate bone cage

of the Emperor’s or your sleeping

ear. For this, the glass blower wakes

and weeps, knowing how frail his world is

and imperfect.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2006 Mekeel McBride. Reprinted from “Dog Star Delicatessen,” Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006, by permission of Mekeel McBride. Questions about Take Heart, which is no longer accepting submissions, may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc at [email protected]