GESTURES by Emma Gray

“When, now, that gesture means [an] idea behind it and it arouses that idea in the other individual, then we have a significant symbol…it has become what we call “language.”

Mead, Mind, Self, and Society.


The mockingbird is back. In the holly tree outside my window

it bristles as it lands on the edge of last season’s nest.

If the tree did not press against my window I would not see it


where it hides from the world’s gaze between branches.

Nesting season is gone and yet it returns, over

and over again when it wants to sit and think and be quiet –


when it has eaten its fill of the red berries that grow in my garden,

almost wider than its throat. I see it in the mornings, beak opened wide,

wider still – until the round fruit is sloughed down like a snake.


The berries look so small in my hands. Each time I turn outside they tell me

this is the North, where winter blanches the earth of life and color

and yet birds survive with food both sufficient and beautiful.


I look at the mockingbird as it waits inside its sanctum –

away from the open seashore of air that churns

with hawkflight and carflight, the wind that drowses and roars –


In the summer it landed and would not still. I would not move as its head

turned again and again to study me. It did not have to speak to share

the intolerable thrum, the need to spot the knife before its coming.


In the winter when the new snow fell, holly leaves humbled by its weight,

the mockingbird returned. It tilted its head to look– breathed,

decided – and exposed its back. We sat together that bird and I


and the speech of it turned my heart to singing.

E.R. Gray is a marketer from New Zealand currently living in Tennessee. When not discovering the pleasures of Johnny Cash or deciduous trees, she can be found researching links between creed and culture.

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