Of Small Birds

I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven. (Emily Dickinson)

 

These are not the flying dinosaurs

that sculpt the skies with raptor power

decking shields, coins, architraves

 

nor the dark corvids sly as humans

that place nuts on tramlines or zebra crossings

for safe and automatic cracking

 

split small birds’ heads at the bat of a wing

croak abysmally throughout the deserts

of suburbia, the killing fields of abattoirs

 

squat on Odin’s regal shoulders

squawking their self-important dualities

of memory and prophecy.

 

These are the smaller mysteries

nesting on your palm light as breath

a red-browed firetail, fawn-fallow feathers

 

smooth-fluffed into grey striations subtly

shading each into each this miracle

thought in the mind of God

 

its clouding eye now leaking life that crossed

that passing car on Birchwood Drive.

Or the two hopping fairy blue wrens

 

on your morning patio alternating

the currents of their hardwired twitch

and bounce between watchful tree

 

and sandstock bricks seething

with edible minutiae invisible

to your median eye. As the female pecks

 

the male amps up his alpha

in scales of butterfly blue.

These love the low prickly shelter

 

of miner-  and corvid-free rosemary,

blackberry, grevillea, wild roses,

so just add a bowl of fresh water

 

mulch the cat and presto

you’ve got them for free

along with the odd attendant fly catcher

 

hoovering up the bugs the wrens have raised.

Thornbills and white-eyes

like it higher up; their electronic twitters

 

flock the canopies they fine-comb for eucalypt lice

while the eastern spinebill zooms down

to leave me breathless with the rarity

 

of its visits, the jewelled head

and infinite arc of that tiny beak

sucking sweetness from the sage

 

its red tubular bells

bent silent

in the sun.

 

[first published in Island magazine, Hobart, Australia, 2009]

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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on November 5, 2009.

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