You stand by the river knowing that the birds
flying overhead are people you once knew,
that they will never come this way again,
that the formation holding them together is a trick
of the eye, that there’s nothing you can do about
the gunshots rising from the reeds along the bank,
about the bursts of feathers and bodies whistling
as they plummet to earth, that without the hunters
the birds would take up every square inch of sky
and you’d never be able to see the moon,
that there’s no reason for you to feel sad
or envy the ones who manage to move on.
Ian Willey is an Ohioan living in the countryside of Japan, where he teaches, writes, and helicopter-parents.