Three Starlings

In the bare upper branches
of a still-standing, colonial-era
hanging tree recruited, reputedly,
for intransigent young blacks, perch
three starlings, widely spaced, still
as the winter afternoon, silent
as a boy left lynched, stiff
in a hunkered-down way
that suggests they will
not fly away from this
strangled place until—
as they bear
hard witness to all things
here below—
they find reason and reason and reason
to sing.

Mark Belair‘s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East, and The South Carolina Review. His books include the collection, While We’re Waiting, (Aldrich Press, 2013) and two chapbooks: Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). His new collection, Breathing Room, is to be published by Aldrich Press this year.