Two small birds thrashing under

the bush beside the stairs

of our new mountain home— 

so busy, and so urgent as

always with small birds—

But our business is to identify them

for we are newly arrived

to this tiny magical town

and there is no excitement like

seeing unfamiliar birds,

and then finding their names

in our specialty book purchased at

Sassafras Bookstore downtown.

It is as if the day

hangs on our learning its names—

to preserve this moment by

stopping the current to name

a single riffle of its moving life.

David Kherdian was born in Racine, Wisconsin, the site of his 13 volume Root River Cycle. In addition to his poetry, biographies, novels, and memoirs, his translations and retellings have included the Asian classic Monkey: A Journey to the West, and the soon to be released 9th century Armenian bardic epic, David of Sassoun. He has also written a narrative life of The Buddha. As an editor he has produced two seminal anthologies: Settling America: The Ethnic Expression of 14 Contemporary American Poets, and Down at the Santa Fe Depot: 20 Fresno Poets, which inspired over 100 city and state anthologies. His biography of his mother, The Road From Home, his best known work, has been continuously in print in various editions and 17 translations, since its publication in 1979. An hour long documentary on his poetry, by New York independent filmmaker, Jim Belleau, was released in 1997. He is married to two-time Caldecott Award winner, Nonny Hogrogian, with whom he has collaborated on a number of children’s books, and also on three journals, AraratForkroads: A Journal of Ethnic-American Literature, and Stopinder: A Gurdjieff Journal for Our Time.

“A Bird” is one of Kherdian’s poems written while living in Black Mountain, NC.