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One Bird Falling

by CB Follett

One Bird Falling

A bird falls,
spinning in widening circles,
like a spiral losing its tension,
or a pebble dropped in a pond.

The bird is already lost,
some distant shot, or a falcon
pierced then let it slip, and it falls
pulling the sky after it.
Like eggshells collecting again
in a film run backwards.

The waters of the pond reflect its coming.
The waters of the pond open
like a passage and welcome the bird in.
Not a bird now, but a flutter
of loosened feathers, a pirouette
adrift on a pewter eye.

No one can put this bird back together.
No one can uncrack the egg
of this world. The heart
flutters against itself. Something terrible
is coming and we pretend otherwise.

The bird, which has fallen into the water
has sunk from sight, the feathers have drifted
and spilled over the distant weir.
The rift closes over itself
and the surface, again, is smooth.


Of all the "steady and purposeful" birds that appear CB Follett's One Bird Falling — ravens, doves, geese, meadowlarks, owls, vultures — the one that falls is never named but "[pulls] the sky after it," indicating "Something terrible / is coming and we pretend otherwise." The "we" of this and other poems is "far away . . . trying to do what's right" in a world controlled by what is invisible, wordless, and unpredictable as the wind. Like the rest of us, the speaker wonders "how and what to understand" and tries to "get away." But the poet does not get away. Instead, in this collection of compassionate and penetrating poems that focus on the natural, personal, and political, she explores what it means not to be able to.
Andrea Hollander Budy, author of Woman in the Painting, The Other Life, and House Without a Dreamer


CB Follett writes, "A bird falls, / spinning in widening circles, / like a spiral losing its tension, / or a pebble dropped in a pond." So, too, the poems in this collection ripple with meaning. In the poem "Belonging," Follett says, "the heart also has a brain." These poems address the heart's brain. These poems challenge the reader to open the heart's brain outwardly to struggle with the incomprehensible mysteries of ordinary experience. Expect to read each of these poems more than once, and expect to be rewarded for doing so.
— Lowell Jaeger, editor of New Voices of the American West

In this book Follett attempts (and I believe, succeeds) to take a new approach to the longstanding questions and their answers, about all our longfelt and heartfelt needs. By any standard, the poems as they face each other from one page to the next are fascinating; they exude wit and humor, suffering and endurance, courage and tenacity. What they do not evince, from first poem to last poem, is cowardice.


I found so many of these poems not simply smart and poignant, but often deeply unsettling in all of the best possible ways. There is something so deeply at stake, psychologically, that I was over and over filled with both awe and admiration. It's hard to pick favorites with your books, but this one may be for me the most compelling yet.
— David St. John


Delicate descriptions of the natural world, the political and the personal, CB Follett's One Bird Falling stands as a poetic collection of reflections on life.

"One Day Last Week," her haunting account of Sept. 11, brings the reader back into those bleak hours and the heart-wrenching days, weeks and years that followed. But this was more than enough for now/ people tumbled together / chefs and bankers, immigrants. And the newly bronzed youth / like Icarus, fell from the sky, silently / spinning down the chutes of glass.

"Arroyo," a reflection on the changing world: We stare at each other: the living flesh / and the living rock, wondering / how and what to understand.

In "Gathering Henry," Follett explores the sensual: Like petals falling, / she caressed and / traveled his entire body / this way, slowly with / languid recognitions

Follett weaves together insight on loss, fear and the celebration of our environment with the words of a master poet. Marin County's current poet laureate, Follett's poems invite the reader to sit comfortably with uncomfortable questions and to absorb the beauty often found within them.
Pacific Sun



This book is available in Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo, and Apple E-book formats, for purchase, and through public libraries' Overdrive account, for loan.

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