(Click on images to enlarge.)
Ode to a Grackle
A variation of the crow,
you strut wherever you may go
unless you’re flying post to tree
to get a better look at me.
You stick your chest out, spread your tail
horizontal, you haughty male,
then fold it neatly, like a fan,
to vertical, because you can!
Three toes in front and one behind,
a songbird of the perching kind,
at a moment’s notice, you’re on the wing,
soaring above everything.
No cat that ever stalked a grackle
succeeded in his stealthy tackle.
No quagmire brings about your fall,
for you just glide above them all.
Every grackle that comes along
sings an ever-changing song.
He chirps, he purrs, he clucks, he whirrs,
whistles, squeegees, chatters, chirrs.
No bird save you, my coal-black grackle,
has such variety of cackle.
And when you deign to land en masse,
your music sounds like broken glass.
Though Mexico was your first home,
both south and north you chose to roam.
Like me, you dared to spread your wings
to see what that adventure brings.
And when you perch upon my tree
to share your company with me,
such varied music swells from your chest,
of all loud neighbors, I love you best.
*Grackle feathers were used ceremonially by the Aztecs, who it is speculated, brought them northwards for this purpose. Zanate is the Aztec name for what in the north we call mynah birds or grackles.