The Wisdom of Others
Concerning Birds

"Nothing wholly admirable ever happens in this country except for the migration of birds."

~~ Brooks Atkinson (1951)

"Eagles: When they walk, they stumble. They are not what one would call graceful. They were not designed to walk. They fly. And when they fly, oh, how they fly, so free, so graceful. They see from the sky what we never see."

~~ Dr. Thomas C. Lee

"Birds as Omens for a Change"

April 22: we sputter outside
a MiniMart in a planned
community near Baltimore.
Inside, you lock horns
with the Pakistani over hotdogs,
maps; your contentious communion
is foreign. You were Hart Crane
in a former life. How you'll decide
to end this one is questionable.

I occupy the passenger's seat
against my will; comfort,
in bucket seats or liaisons, rests
on accommodating vicissitudes.

The motor is running;
quick escapes are your M.O.
Passť Simon and Garfunkel
kicks around the radio waves;
a fabricated pond, too many
trumped up trees stand
on my right-hand side. Hire
Rasputin to direct set design
and this is what you get.

I am looking up. Two western grebes
soar, swoop, dive, shampoo,
rinse, repeat around the pond.
Raptors synchronized, not
indigenous. They are off-course.

Twenty years have passed, precisely.
A wasted merlin, not aquatic, veered,
dived; ill-timed syncopation. A bridge,
troubled water, laid him down.
I bowed my head to that alliance,
kept it low through the interment
and years of sidewalk walks where
the only change I bummed
was made of mercury or wood.

The grebes hesitate, mate,
flick wings against the water,
completely immerse, then lift.
With head bowed, I would have
missed this. You return to our car;
I look you straight in the eye.

Copyright © 2000 MJM

Featured in the October 2000 edition of Poems Niederngasse


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