Part of me says,
get a room already,
or a hollow stump,
or some more private place
than the middle of a busy trail…
part of me would avert my eyes
and slide on by,
as I would teenagers on a bus
but part of me thinks
“Here is nature in the raw
as we seldom see it…
and such a photo op!”
You can see which side won.
The Swallowtail lites in the top
most branches of the minature
apple tree in our yard
and hangs, exotic fruit,
early ripened. If I reach to pick
the Swallowtail will be off,
making its erratic way
to its next perch, fluttering,
always just beyond my fingertips.
Only the heart is equipped,
is agile enough,
to pick such fruit.
In the new grain fields of the modern
intensive agricultural of Austria and Hungary,
red poppies still surface: waves and pools,
streams and puddles, of bright poppie color,
undefeatable, bold against the green and gold,
just as they always have, time out of time…
as though the earth is bleeding for the gentle touch
of the old ways: the horse plow
and the scythes and sheaves of harvest…
for the absent birds, the hare and roe,
pushed to the edges by these
monocultured, manicured factories of grain,
factories of gain.
And there is a part of me
(the better part I think)
that bleeds with the poppies.
The Prothonatory Warbler
danced along the viney branch
picking tiny seeds from
tail feathers all awry,
every which way
in the strong May wind,
the picture of grace under fire,
too busy to be bothered
by its disheveled appearance.
The Reddish Egret is an interesting
feeder, vigorous to the point of humor,
it’s wings like an umbrella held out and up,
hunting tiny minnows in it’s own shadow,
wobbling, apparently erratic, on rubber knees,
a drunken sailor bird, in actuality
every movement perfectly controlled
by a deadly focus on its prey.
Sometime in the wee hours
the migration broke over
Southern Maine like a wave…
not in a trickle but a flood,
as though somewhere south
a dam had broken.
Yesterday the yard belonged
to the winter shift…
chickadees and titmice,
the occasional Downy Woodpecker,
and the ever-present squirrels…
This morning there are Juncos by the hundreds,
Song Sparrows by the tens, a gaggle
of Grackles, a Cardinal or two,
and even my one-a-year Fox Sparrow
shuffling last year’s maple leaves
where they pile under the Pines,
resting a moment with us
on its way north to breed.
I will admit to having my moments of doubt
in the last month or so, but it is looking
like we will all live to see
another spring in Maine.
Winter has held on,
here in Southern Maine,
way past it’s welcome.
We are marching fast
into the final week in March
and snow and ice still clog the marsh.
Returning birds, expecting buds and bugs,
find cold comfort in a February landscape
and flock to backyard feeders.
And the marsh, normally alive
with bird-song by now,
languishes silent despite
the promise of the spring sun.
On the final day
of the Space Coast Birding Festival
when many had already given up
and gone home…
weather not the best,
and the birds scarce…
a group of us came around
the same corner at Merritt Island,
almost to the end of Blackpoint Drive,
and ran snack into this
amazing pool full of mixed waders…
dozens of Spoonbills, six or eight Wood Storks,
hundreds of Egrets: Snowy and Great,
sixty White Ibis and a handful
of Glossy, with one or two
Little Blue Herons and the same
in Greats… all feeding frantically
on some hatch of shrimp, or
spawn of minnows, turning
the little pool into a wildlife
spectacular to rival any in the world.
And we stood there and took shot after shot,
look after look, knowing we might,
none of us, ever see the like again.
And people actually wonder why we bird?
Like a steampunk psychedelic mashup
the Claw-tipped Emerald
hangs among the bright red berries:
it’s hydolic strutted wings fragile
with power, it’s jeweled body,
werewolf haired in all the wrong places,
rests unlikely, caught between
absolute form and ultimate function,
between strange beauty
and industrial design,
it bends the mind like a…
psychedelic steampunk collision.