portion of the artwork for Beth Suter's poetry

Ode to Invasives
Beth Suter

My neighbor complains: too many birds!
my yard a sunburnt riot of what’s left.

Feeders festoon ash-dusted trees like lanterns
scattering bright-winged creatures through ocher haze—

golden-crowned, rufous-sided flashes
escaping the latest fires.

I planted blackberry canes along my barren back fence
people warned: watch out, they’ll take over—

record heat, drought, and they’re barely alive
each new leaf smaller than the last.

All the almanacs wrong, even native plants
evolved to live here before the world caught fire.

What flowers would be left if not for spring’s wild mustard?
What nectar if not for trumpet vine and morning glory?

A red-shafted flicker in the birdbath
splashes water into a compass rose.

I can watch for hours like the sharp-shinned hawk
caught hungry by all this flutter

that fills the space of long-gone songbirds
my child will never hear.

I want to tell him: here is your mirror, here is how
you know you’re alive.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 59 | Spring/Summer 2022