The Bones of Winter Birds

(Terrapin Press, 2019)


  • The Bones of Winter Birds is a book of belonging and of seeking, ribboned through with the copious steamy heat of the South and of the body—“salt-stained, rain-scarred, the body wants its forgetfulness and honey.” Love comes in lines of grief and fear, but these poems are also built on the very satisfying nestling-in to ordinary life. Throughout, Fisher-Wirth finds a melancholic reckoning. “Like a summer creek the mother dries up / in me…Enough. All that worrying. // Clawfoot, bone, beak and feather: now let be.” Her explorations embed salvaged memories and family concerns, with one rich section devoted to an older sister who didn’t want to be known. This collection is unafraid to share longing and loss equally.

—Lauren Camp

  • The Bones of Winter Birds is much about loss, as its title announces: grief attenuates the world, and so doing reveals its most intricate architecture. In Fisher-Wirth’s poems, however, this process is compensated by an attendant richness. What vanishes returns, in memory and in dream; what remains is simply life itself, which concentrates and takes on luminosity. “He screams once,” one poem begins, and another, “Here you see a treasure.” These are the poles of this book. The bones of birds are delicate, and invisible while the creature lives. Like these poems, they are fragile and incisive and essential. This is a lovely and moving book.

—T. R. Hummer

  • Like “sunlight stroking the birds’ throats so it comes out as song,” Ann Fisher-Wirth’s graceful and sturdy lines unsettle the seemingly familiar. A writer of moral gravity, her distilled attentiveness presses against our all-too-common ambivalence and detachment from the ordinary world. Whether set in Mississippi, California, the Ozarks, or France, the poems in The Bones of Winter Birds exhibit an abundance of compassion and civility. As Fisher-Wirth praises, laments, lets go, language salvages what might otherwise be missed. It’s with attentiveness and emotional poise that these poems lay everything bare. Despite fear and everyday darkness, “I think we are provided for” she reminds us, a consolation for which I am grateful. This is a beautiful book.

—Shara Lessley