A Stand Off

A Stand Off

By Dorothy K. Fletcher.

…These birds have adapted well to suburban life, visiting backyard feeders regularly, and have been known to take food from the hand.

‘Publix Red Bird’ Bird Seed, 7 Pound Bag


a thousand times she had imagined it
the flutter of red feathers on her out-stretched hand
closed her eyes and she could almost feel
tiny talons clutching the rim of her palm

she knew they watched her from overhanging branches
the cardinals chirped
knew she’d take forever to drop her arms and put the seeds
on the railing so they could eat in peace.

she remained hopeful
she waited and waited
but eventually she began to wonder
if St. Francis or Snow White or Cinderella
had actually coaxed any wild creature
close enough to touch to feed to love

the bird food bag assured her it could happen.
it simply didn’t predict when
but as her waiting expanded into the longest time
it occurred to her that her heart wasn’t pure enough
for such a cosmic reward as bird trust or touches

she finally spread the seeds and went inside
to watch the birds through windows
she prayed that maybe tomorrow
she’d have improved enough to know a meaningful
convergence with nature
maybe the birds would see fit to eat from her hand
despite her shortcomings
it didn’t seem so much to ask.


In 2007, DOROTHY K. FLETCHER retired after 35 years of teaching English in Jacksonville, Florida. At that time, she began her writing career in earnest. Already her poetry had appeared in 78 literary journals, magazines, and anthologies, and her articles had appeared in the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville Magazine, Small Press Review, the Christian Science Monitor and Rider Magazine. She also had 3 books published— The Week of Dream Horses, The Cruelest Months,Zen Fishing and Other Southern Pleasures. After her retirement, she began a monthly column for the Florida Times-Union called “By the Wayside,” and that became the basis for the first of 4 histories she has written about her beloved city, Jacksonville, Florida. By the Wayside received a 2011 Jacksonville Historical Preservation Award from the Jacksonville Historic Commission of the City of Jacksonville. After that book, she wrote Growing Up Jacksonville, Lost Restaurants of Jacksonville, and most recently Historic Jacksonville Theatre Palaces, Drive-ins and Movie Houses which was a silver medal winner at the FABA Convention in August of 2016. Presently, she and her husband Hardy reside in the San Jose area, near their children and grandchildren, and whenever can, they go traveling.

Photo by Mark Theriot.

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