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Clay Road

poetry of Emily Isaacson

Gray Jay: Canada's National Bird by Emily Isaacson

dedicated to Robert Bateman

Whispering trees, there was someone lost:

how did I help him when he had so far to walk

to return to civilization, so long the road?

I flew from branch to branch

and curiously gripped the moss.

There was nothing I could say, I do not talk,

my intelligence has never been measured by my foes

or by my friends: my tiny boreal heart would dance


at last measure, if you need me near

I will fly to you, on waiting wing

and soar from rise to rise,

I would redeem your final crumb.

There is a friend in my bird body, dear

who would endeavor to save your life and bring

you all the way from sunset to sunrise—

while the moon was an even reflection of the sun.


When you have travelled far as the sea foam,

or into the wilderness where time and doubt linger,

and death draws near your humble dwelling:

a jay’s brightness is stark—Away from us, O death!

the dark has no figment that finds in us a home.

The young lad reaches out his finger,

and the Whiskey Jack is from the sky felling,

my song belays my quiet and sonorous breadth.