Wardrobe Best Dressed: Sally Rosen Kindred’s “Naming the Never-Birds”

Naming the Never-Birds

[Peter] regretted now that he had given [the birds] such strange names that they are very wild and difficult of approach.
— J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan and Wendy

If he’d called them Lily or Cinnamon, maybe
we’d know them by smell. If he’d said
Redcloak, Daggerbird, Seventh Sword
we’d have stories to tell about them,
taloned showdowns in a storm-struck grove
that made thrones of the branches
where each night they angle, practically nameless,
over our wakeful heads
and wail. We wouldn’t
have been afraid to fight
the Pirates if we could have lifted
our arms like a legend’s wings
and flown down over the dark hills
and bled whistle-cold rescue calls
culled from the myths
we never made. If they’d been
Fivestripes, Taper-bill or Pileated Goldtoe
we might have turned to science,
we might never have believed in fairies
and then Tink would have died the time
she dimmed and stumbled
and our crude hands clapped her back. The birds
would have raised her body high that day
in a trajectory we could have mapped
with instruments precise as their names, lifting her
to her favorite tree, the bent birch
where we’d first found her, scolding them. If
they’d been named
what she’d called them then
(Butterbreath, Snailtail)
we’d have had a sense of humor. And if Peter
had called them Mother and Father
we might have gone home,
we might have needed their songs
like milk and their reds like air
and their rough wings descending
like the hands we missed and missed.

“Naming the Never-Birds” appeared in Sally Rosen Kindred’s chapbook, Darling Hands, Darling Tongue, available from Hyacinth Girl Press.  Purchase your copy today!

Sally Rosen Kindred is the author of two books of poems from Mayapple Press, Book of Asters (2014), and No Eden (2011), and two chapbooks, Garnet Lanterns (2006), winner of the Anabiosis Press Prize, and Darling Hands, Darling Tongue (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Quarterly WestHunger Mountain, Verse Daily, and other journals.

This week’s Wardrobe Best Dressed was selected by Erin Elizabeth Smith. Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press, 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.


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