Here on Bowen Island my feeder attracts red-eyed towhees, house finches, stellar jays, dark-eyed junkos and fox sparrows. Robins are here now and don’t seem to partake. A few hummingbirds have been buzzing by lately which surprises me because I didn’t think we had enough bright blossoms on our property. The jays are right on it of course, seem to wait for me to put the food out in the morning. I’ve been taking the feeder in when it gets dark to foil the local rat population. I hate rats. Why don’t my terriers get rid of them?
Birds and birdlife manifest in my poetry all the time. Here are two poems from my forthcoming book, “Window Seat.”
We plan like architects to bring the outdoors
in, parrot like realtors the charms of a tree
house, for up on this hill, birdsong
is tangible. We always get
what we want, camouflaged in our mossy
cabin, high above the threshold
of discovery. Open sky. 360-degree view.
Proximity to water. Reliable food sources. Plenty
of nesting material. Gravel flies
from under the foot of a rabbit
fleeing a resident eagle. Ravens and stellar jays
battle over kibble, shit bomb the deck.
They want in. Past the windowpanes
that trick them. Frenzied. Talons flashing,
they enter through a door in the firmament.
I guide them outside, stunned at the feel
of wing bones. Banging hearts. A hummingbird
goes stillborn in the cup of my hands,
then, buzzers off, leaving a tang
in my throat, a ring of ruby dust
on my finger, incriminating as pollen.
Year of the Monkey
Full house. Madhouse. Ill-fated deejay,
jester fixed to his back, grinding out tunes
in celebration of our new digs, life,
in the forest, despite the clear-cutting
a hundred years ago. There is talk
of the I-Ching. This will be
an extremely progressive time predicts
a guest with faith enough to practice.
Monkeys are shrewd. Agile.
You will find great success in 2004.
Happy New Year! A toast. To the pileated
woodpeckers, heard more than seen. Cheers!
To the deer phantoms, droppings molding
in the front meadow. Where do they go
in the winter? Why don’t I know these things?
We make clumsy attempts at lighting a fire,
heating the house. Woodstove couched
and cold-shouldered as a guerilla soldier
brooding over such hatchet-challenged wimpiness.
We brave the Jacuzzi. January. Naked ape it
on the deck, body sculpting with our bare hands,
pale-faced moon playing peek-a-boo
with the ridgeline, a breeze stroking our backsides.
An owl hoots, hunting through lushness.
Red-eyed towhees flit through a labyrinth of sword
fern, mist the only smoke around here,
desires in the mirror, smudges of dread
surfacing on its beveled edges
whenever we’re not looking.
Twin cedar sentinels stand guard
against the cougar I saw mounting our pup.
When it began stalking the neighbour’s pony
I knew I would need a rifle.
I’m evolving. From a dinky urbanite on all fours,
to a big, eagle-eyed, straight-shooting, cause-
committed, river-of-life channeling, chainsaw-
hung, 4 by 4 pickup piloting Homo Erectus islander.
For more birds and bird-themed works in the blogosphere check out I and the Bird which Mike Bergin owns and publishes every two weeks. http://10000birds.com/iandthebird/