This week’s poem, Susan Cook’s “Tell Me How Many Black Seabirds,” launches with a wild and beautiful image: of waterfowl flying and falling in the sunlight. I love the speaker’s vivid sensitivity to the power of sun and spray, how searchingly she looks to these seabirds, and how she begins to find in them a reminder of how to live.

Cook is a poet and psychotherapist whose collection “Breathing: American Sonnets” was published by Finishing Line Press in the fall of 2020. She holds a doctorate from Harvard University and, as an undergraduate at the University of Maine, minored in English with a concentration in Creative Writing.


Tell Me How Many Black Seabirds

By Susan Cook


Tell me how many black seabirds

woke up this morning, flew to a high place,

shook off a thousand drops of river, heard

each one, in slow motion, fall, a trace

of where each one began inside. This is

a daily ritual. They celebrate

with such silence, quiet applause, which is

to say, this abundance will tell a (late

sometimes) lie. The absence of chaos, just

drops of water shaken off, lets the heat

from the sun’s dependable rays, we trust,

bring heart to any body’s weary beat.

Tell me how we remind ourselves to turn

to the deliberate, needing it just now.


Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Tell Me How Many Black Seabirds,” copyright © 2020 by Susan Cook, appears by permission of the author.

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