I’ve had to start my life again three times
since I met you. It’s not an easy thing to do.
Even now, I hear it start: whispers when I pass, claims
that what I’ve done must be undone, charges never true.

It doesn’t matter what I do. If I should turn away,
the whispers rise; when I turn back, they whirl like chaff.
If I ignore them, do my work, and make it seem like play,
I see another claim my work, and hear the whispers laugh.

When trapped alone, the bravest bird will close his eyes,
and play at being dead. When courage fails, he’ll flail his claws,
and strike and scratch and scream. But, shielding other lives,
he’ll fly up into the hunter’s face to make the killer pause.

I’ll start again a dozen times, if nothing else will do.
I’d spend my life a thousand times, to spend my life with you.

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David Milley has written and published since the 1970s. His work has appeared in Painted Bride QuarterlyBay WindowsRFDFriends Journal, and Feral. David lives in southern New Jersey with his husband and partner of forty-five years, Warren Davy, who's made his living as a farmer, woodcutter, nurseryman, auctioneer, beekeeper, and cook. These days, Warren tends his garden and keeps honeybees. David walks and writes.
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