Almost As If…

15 July 2014

Almost As If…

If you’ve read several entries here, you already know that I am anticipating the sad end of a loved one far away. He was diagnosed with brain cancer just about a year ago, and given a prognosis of 15-22 months remaining. Treatment did not go well, so his time may be shorter. I hear nothing now, just check online once in a while when I start to feel something change. We were so closely connected that I am sure I will hear from him when he reaches the end of his time here.

He was the one I told about my relationships with wild birds. That is why it seems compelling and meangingful that I have had such an intense experience with them lately, and one in particular. Tiger (he told me that’s his name, because he is so brave) first came to my window a month or so ago with his family of nest. He was brand-new, and had his first solid meal with me. He was so clever and curious that he distinguished himself from the other birds right away. He chose to become my friend, and spent a lot of time outside my window cheeping for my attention. When I offered all the birds my hands full of grain, he would cozy up, make himself at home in the palm of one of them, and then monopolize the food supply in the other. The shyer, less trusting birds became envious of his ability to stuff his face while they just watched, so they began to imitate him. My small band of pigeons that would feed from my hand but not otherwise accept touch will now climb all over me, sit or stand in my hands, and let me slip a hand underneath them and hold them. This is important: They are prey animals, and the predators they fear most are raptors who seize them from above. They have little instinct to watch out for threats from below, and when they are feeding, they are in a bit of a trance and not as wary as usual. That means, when they come to me because they are in trouble, I can pick them up and examine and help them. Example: My town has lately been beset by yarn-bombers. Their work is fun and colorful and the humans are enjoying it, but birds have been coming to me with yarn tangled around their ankles and toes. This is a serious problem, and can be life-threatening. One of my birds came to me with this problem about a week ago. Then, he couldn’t quite let me hold him and remove the yarn. Yesterday, he came to the window and held out his still bound–up foot and shook it several times to show me how much it was bothering him. Then, because he has seen me with Tiger, he let me feed him, hold him, and trim the fibers away. He spent the next half-hour or so on my window-ledge just to let me know he was grateful.

Tiger is my dear special friend among the birds now, and he is in trouble. On Sunday, he was with the band in the morning, came right to me, and ate greedily. Yesterday, Monday, he did not come with the others for their morning feed. I looked around outside, and he was huddled with his feathers puffed out, all by himself, in a far corner of the roof. He came to me when I called him, and let me hold and stroke him, but when I offered him food, he only pretended to eat. He pecked at my hand, but he never opened his beak. Today, he acted the same way. He is a runt, I realize; we’ve been friends for about a month, and in that time, the babies who showed up when he did have all grown and matured, and he still looks the same. I’ve asked myself, Did he know this all along, and decide that his best chance lay in being adopted and becoming a housepet? He acted as though that was his purpose. When it didn’t happen, did he just decide to give up?

He was outside an hour or so ago, and ran to me when I called him. He is weaker, and weighs almost nothing. A baby bird cannot go long without food, and he has barely eaten in two days. The other birds can see how worried I am about him, and watch us together with very serious eyes. We have all learned so much about each other in the time Tiger has been with us. They will all be healthier in the future because he showed them there is nothing to fear in being touched, and one has already taken the lesson to heart and benefitted. I’ve provided medical assistance before, but this level of trust has to be maintained, and only a bird can really provide the breakthrough moment.

As above, so below. My world is so filled with visible parallels right now. It’s almost as if….

14 July 2014


You’re Bound to Let Me Know

I knew the sturdy limb would break if all night sat there, cold and hard.
Love lay at the heart of it, but it was shattered by the starred
rebellion up above as all the sky sang hymns of mortal praise,
and someone who was not my Lord took home the laurels. Someone lays
his hands on me, but he is not the one my skin says Welcome to.
Someone sings me songs that raise the very roof, but he’s not who
is visited from clear high vales of shining far white palisades,
a lover who once caught my eye from shadows round a place of shades,
who once strode forward, bold and glad, then failed to shake my hand, and hid,
a ghost who knew quite well the place I came from, yet there—no one did.
No one ever came from where or who I am before, till you.
Let the words run all a-rush, then sink down dead, alive, and true.
In another instant, wild cascades will reel out dawn and dark.
Look up nightly north, northwest. You’ll see us rise. You’ll feel our spark.

When the limb is healed, the plaster cast is cut away, and—pale
as very death, and yet quite living—Raise and fly life on, white sail!
When the morning comes, a little bird I fed today might well
be dead. I hope he makes it. Death is lovely, though. True love will tell.


About J

formal verse poetry and commentary at
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