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.
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!