By Sharon Olds
More and more, along the shore
of the Northeast Corridor,
birds are standing in alcoves like telephone booths
as the humans go by—
doorless ceilingless closets in walls of reed
whose floors are the banks, awash in water,
of inlets and bays.
Large wading birds step back into green recesses,
and stand very still,
sometimes more than one in the narrow space,
sometimes a blue heron and a great egret facing each other
beak to beak. Some birds do not stand,
they grip a branch with their feet to stay upright.
Some birds hop, bouncing along
like little pocketless kangaroos,
and a crow walks along with coins singing in her trousers.
But many birds
freeze when they see us,
like a horror movie -- a scene in a house
where a killer has a special room.
Herons, egrets, ibises, bitterns,
storks, cranes, coots, rails
fall silent, struck motionless at our advent.
Some sidestep, for safekeeping, into extinction.
Tuesday was yet another unseasonably warm, beautiful day. There were golden falling leaves and squirrels and little woodpeckers angry the birdfeeder was empty. We took a walk early because we had plans to Zoom with my family in the late afternoon, and now that we're back on standard time, we wanted to enjoy the outdoors while there was still light. Then we talked to my uncle and cousins with my parents, sister, and one niece on the Zoom call, everyone dealing with the virus and its repercussions but happy about the election.
We had a quick dinner (Moroccan tagine and leftover Lebanese food) so I could go onto Google Meet with my Voyager group. Several friends of 25 years came to remember Becky