Tall gray bird, an egret I think, standing
in the shallows of a small pond over in
the fields behind the high school,
poised, quiet, elegant, intensely
focused, his head with its long beak
snapping suddenly like a whip
into the water, stabbing at one
of the innumerable, plump, brown
tadpoles beginning to kick their frog
legs. But he misses, comes up dry,
his beady eyes staring down
into the dark water, incredulous
at having missed and,
if I didn’t know better, a little
bit embarrassed about it too.
two little blue eggs
Red-breasted Robin nesting again
this year in the lush climbing hydrangea
on the landing going up to our deck.
We try, creeping by like mice,
not to walk close and scare her,
keep the back windows closed too,
so she isn’t startled, squirting off into the trees,
leaving her nest with her two little blue eggs
unattended, unguarded, and unwarm.
A garter snake fatter around than most rests
like a lazy dinosaur
on the warm rocks alongside the front walk.
I'm surprised when my wife
asks me to catch him
and let him go in her flower garden.
“But he's a snake,” I say.
“Yes,” she says,
“and I want him in my garden
to get rid of the moles and mice.” I smile.
“He will get rid of the moles and mice won't he?”
I smile again, “Why of course, honey.”
Though I know he's too small for that
I simply cannot resist the temptation
of putting a snake back
into the Garden at the request of a Woman.
sticks and straw
The poised green frog
in Pat’s garden pond has left,
hopped its way through the woods
beneath the trees and bushes and weeds
to the amiable stream down in back.
It was fun seeing him sitting there
on his rock motionless as moonlight,
quiet as the moon, stiff and still
as a gargoyle. And now, today,
in the afternoon light, he’s gone.
But I’m not completely sad
because the Robin is back, built her nest
in the same spot again as last summer,
halfway down the stairs from the deck,
on the landing right in the middle
of Pat’s huge, sprawling climbing Hydrangea.
If you walk really slowly and careful
you can get close without her flying away,
squirting off her nest of sticks and straw
disappearing into the cool green trees beyond.
Kettling of Hawks
Grainy-textured turquoise hue like a dying flame
scrapes at my white and dusty collar bones,
and at the base of my thick skull, scrapes
until my flesh is pink again,
dream-like streaks tug at my soul
or perhaps it’s my psyche, I frequently confuse
the two, then my wife speaks, cracks open,
like cracking open a pink lobster, my revere –
“One of the birdwatchers on the mountain today
lent us his binoculars so we could see
the hawks kettling, rising up over the trees
where the tree-line ropes off the horizon,
and it was an amazing sight to witness.
Have you ever heard of kettling before?”
“Well no,” I say, and while I’m uncertain
if it is a correct term it sounds good,
sounds poetic – a kettling of hawks, as it turns out,
is a gathering of hawks flying together
in a flock, rising and swooping,
sometimes lazy, other times intense,
and as the hawks flew, pumping their wings
then gliding, through my psyche, or maybe
my soul, they caused
the scraping to cease for a time
in the dusk before nightfall,
and that made me feel good
for the first time that day.