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Killdeer

By Ellen Kartchner Gregory

It’s the kiss of nervous wing against dirt, dragging against gravel;
it’s a cry, a feigned weakness leading the predator away;
it’s a gift for facing danger:
her liver enlarged, cancer rampant,
pain not sometimes but always,
& always tired; her gaunt eyes—
the way she looked at us all that Sunday,
as calm as calm in being carried as kindly as God can allow—
the way her braveness saved her children from despair.

Editor’s Note: Because it nests on the ground, the killdeer bird finds it necessary to lure predators away. It does so by dragging its wing, letting out cries, and gradually leading the predator far from its nest.

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About Ellen Kartchner Gregory

Ellen Kartchner Gregory was born and raised in southeastern Arizona. She now lives with her husband and their five children in southeastern Idaho, where they garden, cook, eat, and hike.

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