After the rain stopped,

I stayed on the porch glider,

listening to the steady drip

off the roof. Dad smoked slowly,

orange ash brightening as he

drew in breaths and held them

to himself like the quiet.

"Hear that?" he said suddenly,

pointing with his cigarette hand

toward the twilight pasture.

Three thin notes rippled clear

as cold water in the spring

behind the house. "He'll come

right up to the lilac if you

learn to whistle the song."

Night after night, I sat alone

out there, calling the bird

just so close, but never a bit

closer, learning most everything

I know about distance,

nothing about the absence

we always hold inside.

After a career of college teaching, Ron Stottlemyer is returning to poetry. His work has appeared (or will be appearing) in Alabama Literary Review, The Sow’s Ear, The American Journal of Poetry, Streetlight Magazine, Stirring, West Texas Literary Review, Temenos, South Florida Poetry Journal, and Twyckenham Notes.