Coot in Kentucky
Standing alone in our gravel driveway, you look lost
in your tuxedo, water-bird flown to the wrong address
for an upscale cocktail party; either that or you’ve shown up
two hours late, so you start walking back and forth
as if most of the guests are behind the clapboard house,
as if a group of drakes smoking cigars will be standing
in a circle on the other side of the dented red truck.
In tasteful gray and black, you look out of place,
too sleek for the number eight gravel mixed with sand
on which you stumble in your over-sized, three-toed shoes.
Or, is the party on the Gulf of Mexico, and you’re not late,
just taking a break en route from your summer place up north?
Whatever, you grace our inland home—sparrows, robins,
chickadees, titmice, and us—with a sea-going elegance
we envy as the final oak leaves blow down, and we’re left
with what seems, at least in your presence, our annual upland
ordinariness. When, at last, you run across the parking lot
as you would a pond, flailing your wings, we want to come.
J. Stephen Rhodes is a Presbyterian minister and theological educator. His poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Windhover, and Tar River Poetry, among others. He is the author of a collection of poems, The Time I Didn’t Know What to Do Next (Wind Publications). Among the mammals he has recently seen at or about his feeders (supposedly for birds) are squirrels, chipmunks, a rabbit, a shrew, deer, and two quite rotund raccoons.