Great

By Emily Blair

Featured art: Fairy Cottage by Byron Armacost

On Facebook, I call everything great
with multiple exclamation points,
even a meeting. Great used to just mean
very, very large. Incredible, fantastic, amazing,
are the words I use for a poem, a painting,
a robot from outer space.

So what can I say about the cardinal
who makes a perfect landing on the tippy-top
of the bright pink cherry tree next door to my mother’s house.
He sings cheer cheer cheer what what what
as if he were the only personified bird in the world.
He sings cheer-a-dote cheer-a-dote-dote-dote
as if we’ve never heard a song like that
bursting forth from a bright red bird,
turning the air behind him bluer, airier.

This would make a good desktop background
if I had a camera, but I don’t.
My mother puts her arm around me and says,
“We’ll remember.” A mother’s loving wisdom,
more poetry Kryptonite! I mean, obviously, she’s right,
but still you won’t catch me talking about this later,
how for a vertiginous moment we all hold a meeting
like the Superfriends in the Hall of Justice:
the cardinal, the sky, the tree, my mother and me.

The universe depends on us—
the cat hiding in the hedge,
the squirrels scrapping over sunflower seeds,
my mother’s haphazard plantings,
the neighbors who can be seen moving
about their kitchen through the window,
their immaculate lawn, their silver gazing ball
on its pedestal, summing up
the whole shining spectacle.

It’s cheer-a-dote cheer-a-dote-dote-dote
It’s wheet wheet! wheet!!
It’s great.


Emily Blair’s poetry has appeared in Gulf Coast, The Journal, Copper Nickel, The
Gettysburg Review
, and the Brooklyn Poets Anthology, among other places.
Blair has received New York Foundation of Arts Fellowships in both poetry and
fiction. She lives in Brooklyn.

Originally published in NOR 29.

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