I did not notice the birds

by Michael Sun

It was raining. It was raining that late fall rain, just-shy-of-snow kind-of-rain.
Gray sky, so I was watching my feet kind-of-rain. The kind of rain that puddles
shallow in the sidewalk, makes slick the faded reds of stamped-down leaves,
so I watched my black sneakers, toe over toe. The bone-chill rain washed out
my memory of warmth, the two cups of coffee in me gone cold, so I walked
down 53rd with my hands in my blue raincoat, and my head down.
                                              I did not notice the birds until they flew up past me.
Gray and brown birds that must have been pecking for food. Those sparrows,
juncos, or finches – or whatever they were – they must have been there
the whole time. But walking with my head down, in the rain, my hands
in my blue raincoat, I saw the earth rise. I saw wings lift from dirt.
From nothing, from nowhere, which is to say, I wasn’t paying attention
because of the rain. Because my head was down, and when I looked up,
they had already gone, dissolved beyond fences. And I wasn’t even that
depressed, I just wasn’t paying attention, and the birds, the birds flew
from nowhere and surprised me so, so surprised I had to tell you about it.
I confess, I wasn’t looking for wonder, didn’t even want it this rainy morning,
but it happened. I am so happy it happened. A flight of birds from nothing
gone to nowhere, and oh, if you see me weep this time I swear it’s joy.

Michael Sun (he/him) is a Korean American poet from the suburbs of Chicago. A graduate of Dartmouth College and attendee of the 2019 Frost Place Conference, his poems appear in Hobart After Dark, The Compass Magazine, and Bloodroot Literary. He is currently a medical student at the University of Chicago and tweets at @theprodigal_sun.