Blackbirds over Lake Chapala

Blackbirds Over Lake Chapala

I no longer have to look away from the sunset
to know the birds are flying over.
I’ve come to recognize the sound,
like water rushing against the banks of a stream,
of thousands of wings pumping then gliding then pumping.
The ribbon of their combined mass
twists for miles like a giant ghost snake in the sky,
its molecules dividing, joining,
undulating from the green marsh grass
into eye blue sky.
Birds silhouette against
an edge of tangerine cloud
that is a scribble of glue in the sky.
Below them,
the smell of dirt, smoke from the burning mountain,
drum beats from the heart of the hazed city.
A canoe shaped like a Nile barge bumps against the reeds.
Sounds of a new flock flying over whip the air
above the night heron
who stands on short legs
on a post surrounded by low water.
The whole mass of birds is blown by the wind forth and back,
forth and back.
Some separate and circle back to marsh grass
where another mass lifts to fly east,
away from the setting sun.
The scene is ripped by
the rapid raucous staccato of two small boys
lofting  rocks toward the soaring banks of birds,
violence feisty in their harsh raised voices.
Again and again they throw their stones,
a futile gesture,
as above them the sun turns angry orange
over the purple mountains,
then sinks to radiate like something sacred
from behind dark clouds.
Watching two egrets open the air with pencil points, then vanish into it,
I only hear the diving pelican cut the water behind the tall reeds.
And, like a sudden wind over my head,
a new rush of blackbirds.


A number of people wanted to see photos of the blackbirds taking flight at Lake Chapala, so I spent a few hours going through old boxes of photos and found some which you can see HERE. The picture I used to illustrate above is one I took of starlings, I believe, and not taken at Lake Chapala, although the skies look similar!

For dVerse Poets: Flight

This entry was posted in bird poem, Birds, Poem and tagged , on by .

About lifelessons

My blog, which started out to be about overcoming grief, quickly grew into a blog about celebrating life. I post daily: poems, photographs, essays or stories. I've lived in countries all around the globe but have finally come to rest in Mexico, where I've lived since 2001. My books may be found on Amazon in Kindle and print format, my art in local Ajijic galleries. Hope to see you at my blog.

39 thoughts on “Blackbirds over Lake Chapala

  1. kim881

    I’m so glad you wrote about blackbirds, Judy, they seem to be taken for granted or even overlooked, when they are such endearing birds with a beautiful song. I love the way you describe the sound of them flying over ‘like water rushing against the banks of a stream’, the image of the ‘ribbon of their combined mass’ that:
    ‘twists for miles like a giant ghost snake in the sky,
    its molecules dividing, joining,
    undulating from the green marsh grass
    into eye blue sky’
    and the contrast of the flock above and the solitary night heron below.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      I never go down and walk along the lake anymore now that those wetland marshes and the acres of cattails are gone. It’s better for the lake, as it means it is once again full, but I do miss the sight of those huge swarms of birds coming in for the day, then leaving for the night.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      I wish I had a photo of the long strings of birds mentioned in the poem..They were like a horizontal tornado of birds scribbled across the sky. I don’t think I ever got a photo in that pre-digital age. Just a mental image.


        1. lifelessons Post author

          I must have taken photos. I’ll have to look in old files. Such stunning sights. I’d never seen anything like those strings, miles long. If they were starlings they’d perhaps be called murmurations.


            1. lifelessons Post author

              Yes.. I know.. This photo was taken of starlings.. either at the beach or in Missouri. I guess I need to look to see if I have any photos of the blackbirds.. they were amazing.


            2. lifelessons Post author

              I spent hours going through boxes and albums of old photos and found just two that show the birds lifting out of the reeds. I’ll post them, Jane.


  2. Glenn A. Buttkus

    Me too, “eye blue sky” is a wonderful and refreshing addition to the lexicon of blues. As a kid, we lived next to a field, with a huge maple in the middle of it. I swear a 1,000 blackbirds would perch in it, and they did the avian dances you described.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Glenn, I’m posting the two photos I can find. They don’t do justice to scene, but show a few of the vast numbers of birds that spent the day in the cattails and reeds every day.


  3. Pingback: Blackbirds over Lake Chapala 2 | lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

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