The Secret Lives Of Birds

Do not love the oriole.

She will flutter and charm in a charismatic display;

Then, when all of your dreams have turned to orange,

She will do the same over an old bit of string.

The water pipit favors the stark beauty of rocky beach or tundra.

She is plain but hardy, and will find a way through and say nothing

When you fuck up the way you do;

She sometimes lays her eggs on golf courses--

Do not stupidly try to drive them or sink them, because then you will discover

They are the thing she loves, more than you.

You can't count on a cedar waxwing.

She will include you and also several of her friends,

Passing a ripe cherry from beak to beak, down the branch, until every face is sweet and red.

You'll forget yourself with happiness and the summer will be one long delicious picnic of plenty;

Did you think the red markings at her wing tips were simple accents?

They are her album, of you, and another, and another,

All abandoned, like dreams upon waking--

Suddenly and entirely,

When all the fruit is gone.

The jay can scatter smaller birds from the feeder

By mimicking the cry of the red tailed hawk.

She takes what she will, burying--and forgetting--a great many prizes;

Entire forests spring from her bold thievery.

Yet, she always seems to be moving on.

Despite her beauty, brass, and moxie,

Tranquility is never hers, and if you love her,

It will elude you, too.

And me?

I am fascinated with them all.





I am the song they did not know they knew,

And I am the rapt and admiring listener;

I am the silent sky in love with their wing beats and the music that cannot be expressed

Without them.



mac said…
These birds of yours cannot be possessed. Perhaps that is part of their draw?

That's why I like turkeys. They just sit around getting fat, until they get eaten ;-)
Riot Kitty said…
LMAO over Mac's comment!

Very nice poem, Shay.
Unknown said…

and they tell us such simple truths of life...

such as.....sing songs we are born to & and "love thyself as thy god" as not to confuse longing with love nor need with desire......
TALON said…
Loved this poem...but then I'm very partial to the avian species myself :)
Anonymous said…
Shay, this is especially nice for me to read, as I am birdwatching every day. The birds are fascinating in the wild.

Shadow said…
aaah, so that's why my levi does what he does...
Daryl said…
LOVE this one, I wish I knew you were going to post this, I have such a super shot of a cardinal ...
Unknown said…
Oh Shay, as you know my fondness for and of birds, my love of them is deep in my soul so this poem just expresses to me all that I have felt at various times of the nature and secret lives of birds. This poem brought me to tears...birds are not our exotic pets or creatures to be seen they are in our hearts and they are our hearts...always.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for making them even more real to me.

xo gabi
Sara said…
Loved this one. It's definitely one of my favorites so far. Not only beautiful to read, but about one of my passions:~)

I loved what you wrote about blue jays, especially this line, "Entire forest spring from her bold thievery." That's GREAT!!

I was just fussing at my blue jays for swooping down on the feeder, crying HAWK all the way, making the little birds scatter in terror.

They know no shame, but I do so love them, even with all their blustery noise:~)
ellen abbott said…
Shay, I love the ending to this.
Hilary said…
You've just described my bird feeder through the seasons... and this ending is so true.

Thanks for visiting my blog in support of Joanna.. much appreciated. :)
Mojo said…
I loved this when I saw it at Daryl's, and I had to stop in and tell you that. I love the way you finished it. It resonates SO deeply.

We must be on the same trunk line to the muse, because I have one scheduled for One Single Impression this weekend that has a similar theme. At least the endings are similar.

I think I've encountered and loved every one of these birds. Never ends well. And the sickest thing is I never regret it. Well, almost never.
Maude Lynn said…
Amazing writing, Shay.