religiously, for years. Filling
a rusted coffee can with sunflower
seeds, she loaded the feeder outside
her big picture window, daily.
Seated with binoculars and bird book in hand,
she watched the window like a big screen TV.
A .22 leaned casually against the window frame.
She slipped its nose out occasionally, firing a round
into marauding Blue Jays and other greedy types.
Her letters to me, in shaky script, described
birds she saw and bears; often
mother bears moving through the old
orchard on their way to the river
with cubs in tow.
She stopped shooting the rifle, she said,
after she accidentally shot a hole in the floor.
When a bold bear came and stood outside the window
making eye contact with her, she also stopped feeding the birds.
I wanted her to feed them anyway,
to stand her petite frame in the wide
window, binoculars in one hand and riffle
in the other, like a sharp shooter in the WWII
movies Grandpa and I watched in her
living room. I wanted food for the birds,
which were food for her. I wanted her to keep
Now I walk my own property
toting bags of oiled, black sunflower seeds.
One by one I lower, fill, and rehang feeders.
I watch dumpy doves, dapper cardinals, bright yellow finches
and the greedy squirrel who hangs upside-down by his back toes.
I lift my children to face the window, “Look! See!,” I say.
We’re a long way from the mountains,
though I can see them in the distance.
I don’t believe the bears will find me here,
but if they do, maybe I’ll tell them
about my Grandmother – her binoculars and gun,
her happy, well-fed chickadees.