Why I Wake up Early – a poem by Mildred Kiconco Barya

Why I Wake up Early
I have eleven wild turkeys
that play and dance and eat all day.
Soon there will be turkey babies
who will learn the daily walks 
and rituals of their parents.
They pass by my red door without 
knocking, but I hear them all the same—
their cackle and, holy gods, how I envy 
their agility even when they are plump!
Oh, the joy they bring me to watch them free.
Do they have any cares, or is this what 
it means to belong to the Universe?
I rise to greet them each day. My heart 
pounds with concern when I do not see 
them at the expected time. I imagine the worst—
bears, foxes, humans… but before I can go on 
with my wretched thoughts, they show up. 
I do not wait for another sign to assure me that 
I, too, am loved somehow.

Mildred Kiconco Barya is a writer from Uganda and assistant professor at UNC-Asheville. She has published three poetry books and her fourth poetry collection, The Animals of My Earth-School Institute, is forthcoming from Terrapin Books, 2023. Her prose, hybrids, and poems are published in Joyland, Shenandoah, The Cincinnati Review, andelsewhere.www.mildredbarya.com

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