It’s the Season I Often Mistake

by Ada Limón

Birds for leaves, and leaves for birds.
The tawny yellow mulberry leaves
are always goldfinches tumbling
across the lawn like extreme elation.
The last of the maroon crabapple
ovates are song sparrows that tremble
all at once. And today, just when I
could not stand myself any longer,
a group of field sparrows, that were
actually field sparrows, flew up into
the bare branches of the hackberry
and I almost collapsed: leaves
reattaching themselves to the tree
like a strong spell for reversal. What
else did I expect? What good
is accuracy amidst the perpetual
scattering that unspools the world.

From The Hurting Kind. Milkweed Editions,
Forthcoming in May, 2022. Reprinted with permission.

Read this and other poems by Ada Limón in The Hurting Kind, available for purchase online.

Looking out at a bleak and seemingly bare winter landscape, I’d just had the same thought a few days before I read Ada Limón’s poem—that it’s hard to tell the dif