Birdsong from My Patio
I've never heard this much song,
trills pure as crystal bells,
but not like bells: alive, small rushes
of air from the tiny plush lungs
of birds tucked in among the stiff
leaves of the olive and almond,
the lemon with its hard green studs.
As the sun slides down newborn
from thick muscled clouds
their glittering voices catch the light
like bits of twirling aluminum.
I picture their wrinkled feet
curled around thin branches,
I see them preening, tainted
feathers sliding through their glossy
beaks, over their leathery tongues.
They're feeding on contaminated insects,
wild seeds glistening with acid rain.
And their porous, thin-shelled eggs,
bluish or milky or speckled,
lying doomed in each
intricate nest. Everything
is drenched with loss:
the wood thrush and starling,
the unripe fruit of the lemon tree.
With all that's been ruined
these songs impale the air
with their sharp, insistent needles.
Copyright © 2007 Ellen Bass All rights reserved
from The Human Line
Copper Canyon Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission