Click on photos in gallery to enlarge.
Lying in the hammock, searching for my words,
I come up with nothing, so I consult the birds.
They lift up off my trees to circle in a ring
as though they’re reconnoitering every single thing.
Swooping to partake of swirling clouds of gnats,
eying all my fruit trees, teasing both the cats,
who, crouched up on the roof, dream culinary wishes—
far above their heads, those tiny feathered fishes
far out of their reach, but so mesmerizing that
they far exceed temptation of squirrel or of rat.
Cats find bird movements insolent, drifting high up there.
Such an outrê thing to do, floating in the air!
Through the air high up above the graceful soarer weaves,
his shadow cast against the wall and stones and grass and leaves.
Without a modicum of sound, he drifts and circles ’round.
If those below detect him, it will not be by sound.
He seems to simply levitate, on wings lacking in motion,
betraying not one sign of his means of locomotion.
Below small dirt volcanoes betray presence of prey.
Small denizens of tunnels emerge from them each day.
Opting for the light after so many hours below,
darting back to safety when a human comes to mow,
they steal the seed corn, sheer the roots, consume the tender shoots.
As often as the mounds are pressed flat by heavy boots,
the next day there’s another to take each burrow’s place.
Always another obstacle for opponents to face.
What act is fair for man to take in thinning nature’s riches?
What will I do to rid my lot of undersurface ditches?
The neighbors mount a protest, asking for an end
to creatures that usurp their space, and still I do not bend.
But here there is a creature who merely by its will
has the means to swiftly dip and fall upon its kill.
When the Red-Tailed Hawk dips low, watching from above,
I shudder as the claws surround the vole’s form like a glove.
Wings flapping for the lift-off, caught in sun’s early ray,
the bird with prey in claw now lifts and opts to fly away.
Their shadow soars onto my lawn over the wall between,
the prey it’s holding as it lifts too tiny to be seen.
Nature will deal with nature. It needs no intervening.
It is a way that our world has to deal with its own gleaning.
This is perhaps my favorite video ever sent to me on the internet. Nothing like birdsong to cheer a gal up!!!
Although these birds are of different species, they have one thing in common, in that they are domesticated birds who also happen to live in restaurants. Who could order chicken with these handsome fellows in clear constant view? Click on the photos to enlarge and read their stories.
Forgive if I go histrionic
over things peristeronic.
I can’t control the things I do
when I hear them bill and coo.
Every day, my morning tonic
is when pigeons do their sonic
gurglings like water running.
while they do their daily sunning.
How I love these sunrise smidgens
of the morning sounds of pigeons!!
For the Weekend Writing Prompt: Peristeronic.
A couple of hours of looking through old photos of the non-digital sort yielded two photos of the blackbirds whose sunset flights were described in this poem. In these photos, they have not yet gathered into the chains they form to fly to the cornfields between Chapala and Guadalajara. Here they are just lifting out of the acres of cattails that rimmed the lake back when it was shrinking in size. This is just one wave of birds. After it lifted, there would have been another and another—tens of thousands of birds—as I recall, some yellow-winged and some red-winged blackbirds. In the years since then, the lake has thankfully come up to its original banks, as at the time I moved here in 2001 there were places in which you had to take a taxi from the pier to get out to the lake. It was estimated that the lake would be totally gone within five years, but luckily people banded together to save it. I’m glad to have the lake restored and there are still thousands of white pelicans as well as numerous egrets and herons and other birds, but I do miss those glorious swells of blackbirds.
(If you want to see the birds, you need to click on photos to enlarge them.)
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!