Rodney Torreson

Rodney Torreson

Buddy was selected as part of MSU Library Short Edition's call for submissions on the theme of "Home," in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum's exhibition "Where We Dwell." The former poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Torreson won the Seattle Review's Bentley Prize, and Storyline Press named him runner-up for the national Roerich Prize for first books. In 2015, the Dyer-Ives Foundation honored him "for his longstanding commitment as a poet, teacher, patron, and advocate for poetry in West Michigan. His third full-length collection of poetry, THE JUKEBOX WAS THE JURY OF THEIR LOVE, was issued by Finishing Line Press in 2019. His other full-length books of poems are A BREATHABLE LIGHT (New Issues Press. 2002) and THE RIPENING OF PINSTRIPES: CALLED SHOTS ON THE NEW YORK YANKEES (Story Line Press, 1998).

Between the stuffed chair
and couch our nine-year-old
granddaughter bumps along a cart.
It contains the cage
that holds her budgie, Buddy—
his bobbing, salubrious blue
and white head, pretty prattle,
white-edged wings
with an appetite for flight.

Our hands will flutter fingers
that mime its wing's small primeval bones,
as the cart twists through a tight space
to her bedroom while we say goodnight;
Leah insists her bird stay close,
as if, covered by cloth,
it yet can sentinel any shadow.

But he'll pass into her room
in daylight too, and we'll cry,
"Buddy, are you going to fly?
Does Buddy get to fly?"—

Sometimes I'll turn my hand
to see its flapping as Buddy sees it,
as if we're part of that flock he watches
from this house
wrapped in windows,
where, in Leah's room, he must dream
of following the trees'
freedom trail up.

We hope, for Buddy's sake,
that flitting above the sill he'll feel
that the birds of our hands
are tethered to our arms,
that with his wings for a while
riding high, that it's us
who are ruffled, fussing
because we can't come too.

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