Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Barbara Crooker: "Rufous-Sided Towhee"

The teaching of Zen is: drink your tea. —Jane Hirshfield, Agni Online

Which is what the towhee says as he

scratches in the underbrush, searching for food.
Black and white with rusty sides, he loves
the understory, the margins, the hedgerows.

He sinks into the afternoon like brown leaves
steeping in hot water. He knows no ambition

or envy, wants nothing beyond this spring day,

sunlight spreading like honey on toast. Up pops
my list, the items to check off, the errands to run,

the weeds to pull. The towhee sings again:
Drink your tea.

"Rufous-Sided Towhee" by Barbara Crooker. Text as published in Little Patuxent Review: A Journal of Literature and the Arts (Winter, 2014). Reprinted by permission of the poet.

Listen to the "drink your tea" song of this bird (scroll down page to the audio bar).

Art credit: Untitled photograph of Rufous-Sided Towhee by Pat Gaines.



  1. Love the poem! Can't find the audio bar...?

    1. Did you clink on the link first ("Listen")? The audio bar is on the page I've linked to. :)

  2. Another splendid poem by the inimitable Barbara Crooker, whose work I've admired for decades.

    1. Barbara is quite a poet, and extraordinarily generous.

  3. "sunlight spreading like honey on toast." makes me melt into my chair.

    Going to listen to the audio I learned the bird has been renamed the Eastern towhee; they note that rufous-sided was a much more descriptive name, which it definitely is. https://bwdmagazine.com/learn/eastern-towhee/


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