Holding Still

for Anne S. 

The father built the four-finger nests
of his children’s hands, curving them enough
to cup the sunflower seeds they bought
at the convenience store off the highway

He crouched behind the staggered line
of girl-boy-girl and whispered wait
in the hush of the woods’ inner ear
beneath the barely-there buds of spring

The children’s hearts crescendoed
in their small chests until they heard
the two-note tune of the chickadees
coming to find the waiting gift

They held still like their father said
until the black-capped birds made
a final flutter to hand and seed
with the song of thanks that the children
would call peace the rest of their lives

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