Note: I live in a forest with a continual diminishing of birds. I am not one to count the birds, or enumerate their variety, but if the cedar waxwings don't return or the woodpeckers find another pine or fir in which to rest, I have been known to lament.
The chickadees accumulate at the birdbath
if such flitting things can be said to mass.
I am fitting a new S hook in the wood
to hang the feeder after two squirrels found
a way to descend the chain until their slight weight
broke the grip of the screw and sent all three
tumbling to the cement below like two asteroids
interrupting the gravitation of a third
and sending it spinning wildly in its flight,
the chickadees, towhees and finches smaller rocks
in some cataclysmic belt of broken things.
Below the ladder a brave pinion jay
breaks the stillness with the clack of her beak
against the pavement and the shell of a seed
opened, dropped, picked clean, and the wind,
which had been low, now gusting,
rolling the husk toward the dirt and ivy.
What to be made of this—pouring millet and flax
to feed nuthatches to simply watch them eat,
to see the feeder swing on its links
like a pendulum of a clock marking time’s chain
in an exuberant delight one could mock
for its simplicity. Merely to watch birds
come and go, come and go, and finally go.
This is what the birds provide, the feeder full of seeds,
the pinions on the ground and the sparrows in the air,
a respite from the metronomic, a bit of chaos
to the cadence, the rhythm only marked
by the joyous asynchronous beating of wings,
ticking heard on the branches of holly and oak
where time disappears behind one leaf
and reappears in front of another.
At night I step out in the cold with broom and seed
and watch the universe shift, sweep the shill
from the walk the wind neglected,
steady the feeder for another cup.
© 2018 Jeff Burt