"Yucca by Window"  Copyright 2001 Elaine Thomas

If not for Birds

One hundred species of songbird
I'm told
now near to disappearing. Better
to kill the cats and the dogs
and the little boys with BB guns
for I have determined
that living without birds
wouldn't be living.

From their perch
on the telephone wires
the red-winged blackbirds
send up a great racket, a bit like
a knot of burbling, frothing
children in the park, annoying in their energy
while also
cheering you on. Whether in chorus
or from a single note
streaking through the redwoods, it is
the word of bird that I listen for
as I walk. Who else
to teach me to whistle again
as I grow old
and blind?

Joseph Keller McNeilly  copyright 2001
from Out Here (Chatoyant 2000)

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