Karen Luke Jackson

While Waiting for Heart Surgery

December, and this morning a pair
of bluebirds visit the window
by my reading chair. Their feet cling
to screen, pine needles in beaks,
a sign they’re not leaving.

They pad a nest in a wren’s house,
the same nest where last spring
their speckled eggs escaped
the black snake’s hinges.
Three broods, such hungry cheeps.

Later they peck nearby panes, dart
to an empty feeder. So I rise and drizzle
sunflower seeds into the cylinder,
brim a red cup with mealy worms,
and, although they may not need it,
fire up an outdoor heater.

Back on the couch, shawled
in my mother’s quilt, I warm
my hands with a cup of lavender
tea as they light
on porch railings and preen.


Karen Luke Jackson draws upon oral history, contemplative practices, and nature for inspiration. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Broad River Review (Rash Poetry Award), Ruminate, Atlanta Review, One, and Susurrus. Her chapbook GRIT (Finishing Line Press, 2020) chronicles her sister’s adventures as an award-winning clown and her full collection, The View Ever Changing (Kelsay Books, 2021), explores the power of place and family ties. A native of South Georgia, Karen now resides in a cottage on a goat pasture in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.