The bird swoops
from the neighbor’s roof,
low over the pool
like a crop-dusting plane over prairie wheat.
and when I again look up,
it has already sailed over my bedroom dome,
up to the hills that march above our fraccionamiento,
still green from the rainy season,
holding yellow flowers in bunches
like a hopeful suitor.
It is movement only
and a flash of brown,
not white like the albino owl
that swooped in a similar downward curve
over the pool and up again
that night our old friend died
alone in a hotel room in London.
This is the language of birds.
My two-woodpecker alarm clock,
every morning stirring me
from my solitary bed
to engage with the day.
The whir of hummingbirds
outside the window
in front of my desk cave,
drawing my attention away
from the worrisome puzzle of the next word.
standing at attention on one leg,
balancing on the dense hyacinths
that blanket the lake,
one eye intent on shadows
beneath water no human eye sees.
That sudden flash,
a filled beak
and that puzzle of digestion––
how to get a horizontal fish down a vertical gullet.
All the music of my life
sometimes distills down to the chorus
of thrush and cardinal,
wren and grackle,
of the egret.
By some synchronicity,
conducted into a natural choir
that is beautiful in its spontaneity.
What orchestra has that fine precision
and that moving harmony?
Every art a mere imitation
of what the world provides us every day
that we present ourselves to experience it.
Our birding trip through the lagoons near La Manzanilla yielded more laughs than birds. For Rachel and Gloria, who had never made the trip before, the hour and a half long trip down the mangrove swamps yielded more surprises than I had counted on. Click on the below photos to read the story as well as the photos:
After initial problems stepping into the muck to get into the boat, all started out smoothly enough.
The channel was wide,
we saw a few birds, although not as many as usual.
Plenty of crocs were in evidence, but their swift emergences and disappearances didn’t afford much of a photo opportunity.
and a few more.
Due to extrememly high water levels, the banks were verdant
All was calm
This rattling of usually serene mature ladies?
What knocked my shoes off
and caused this kingfisher to reel in shock?
What brought Gloria from her perch
and set Rachel to reeling with laughter?
Brought us all to the floor of the boat?
R.O.T.F. certainly had more of a personal meaning for us by the end of our tour.
Could it possibly have been due to a series of impossibly low mangrove limbs that because of the high water were only inches above the top edge of our boat? Yes, indeed, we went under at least four trees like this that extended completely across the channel, as well as a low-hanging footbridge. And then got to repeat the experience on the way back. For now, trips through the mangroves are definitely not for sissies. We earned our gin and tonics that night!!! (Look again, now. All of those low-lying trunks of trees pictured behind us were ones we’d just gone under!!!
I love what congregates around the sea.—not the open sea. Rather, where it meets the land. (Photos will enlarge when you click on them.)
I love sand and the things it collects: seashells, jellyfish, sand dollars, starfish, puff fish, sand pipers, sea turtles and even the people who collect at the beach. It is like they have retreated as far as possible–the next step is either a boat or drowning! They tend to be individuals, slightly odd–kind of like the people from the western world who congregate in third world locales like Africa. Perhaps they are this age’s pioneers or trappers.
Oh yes. I do love the oceanside, the beach. Salt. Sand. I love what collects above the beach as well: frigate birds and pelicans, ibises, sun, moon, clouds. Above are some of the thousands of images of the beach I’ve collected over the past ten years or so.
I would have to say that my muse is the sea–but not the open sea. Rather, where it meets the land.
I admit, this is a reblog of photos from three years ago. The prompt word today was congregate.
When the pelicans stayed away for the past few weeks, the frigate birds were out in full force. Usually, it seems to me that these birds soar high above, swooping down only to steal other birds’ prizes, but two days ago, when the pelicans and fish came back as well, they appeared by the dozens, swooping down on the beach to claim bait left on the beach after the fishermen cleared their nets. It was an amazing display. Here are some of the hundreds of photos that I took of them that capture their numbers and antics to a small degree. Please click on the first photo and then the right arrows to proceed through the enlarged photos and to read the captions that tell the story of their visit to civilization:
It was hard to capture the pure numbers of the frigate birds assembling.
They came in long curls and swirls and lines in the air far above.
and beautiful wind-choreographed displays.
The ballets executed by these swooping and soaring birds was exquisite.
Then they flew lower,
Swooped up again
and came closer to the bait
Cronies from above deserted the veiled sun to join them.
You can see the fish dangling from the beak of this brave bird who nearly brushed me with his wings as he swooped in for his desayuno.
These ladies were as surprised as I was by the birds’ seeming nonchalance regarding our presence. The feed was all! The End
The Magnificent Frigate Bird
They polonaise up higher, far above the rest. Not once dipping to the land. Do they ever nest?
I never see them fishing, foraging or chewing. As though their wings are made for art but are not made for doing.
A gentle crease within their wings looks folded and unfolded, but keeps its shape no matter what, as though it has been molded.
This rhyme is not so fragile nor so graceful as these birds. I guess such elegance as theirs cannot be caught in words.
(I wrote this poem a few years ago and published it in a series of poems about La Manzanilla. It seemed appropriate to publish it again with these photos.)