The Names of the Birds and the Trees

by Piyali Nath Dalal

On a Rowing Machine, Fitness Crossroads Gym.
The machine is predictable, methodical, constant.
My belly hangs in between my thighs.  
I feel lethargic, yet this is my first 
quiet of the day.

The new baby kicks.

Silver haired women and men around me celebrate 
Bruce’s 90th birthday. He and I often stand beside 
each other during stretch and balance 
class on Tuesday mornings.

I look outside. The Mexican bakery next door 
has been awake for hours. A gentle baker, 
perhaps the same each morning, lays out 
crumbs for the little birds. 

I don’t know what kind of birds they are. It never mattered 
to me. Until now, when I become more like my mother,
 and her father, with each breath: yearning 
to take care of my garden and to learn
the names of the birds and the trees.

In front of the manager’s office, there is a sign.  
It reads,
“Each day is a gift.”

photo credit: Ravi Shekhar, Unsplash