Friday, October 17, 2014

Urge for going time

We're past mid-October. Halloween is on the horizon. It's been more than a week since a chipmunk wandered into the live trap. That may mean that this season's total count of those caught, transported and released will end at 14. Here's number 13 or 14 scampering to freedom.

video


Sandhill cranes are disappearing from the fields and marshes. This trio and the rest of their gang were last seen a week or two ago.

Three sandhill cranes and two crows
Photo by J. Harrington

Northern ducks have migrated down. Bluejays are everywhere. Song birds show up briefly in the woods and head South again the next day or so. The driveway is leaf-covered. High temperatures for the rest of the month aren't forecast to come anywhere near yesterday's 70s. There are enough bow hunters in the woods that the deer are spending more time close to the house. From somewhere, a late season hatch of mosquitoes has avoided being killed by the frosts we've had. They seem to be the only local creatures without some kind of Urge for Going.

The new roof should start going on the house next week. Windows in late November or sometime in December, siding after that. Guess who's hoping that, until all the work is done, there's going to be no more than a dusting of snow for Christmas .

The Singers

By Craig Arnold 

for Boyce 

They are threatening to leave us          the nimble-throated singers
          the little murderers with the quick pulses
They  perch at the ends of   bare branches          their tails
          are ragged and pitiful          the long green
feathers are fallen out          They  go on eating and eating
          last autumn's yellow melia berries
They do not care that you approach          cold corpses
       rot in the grass          in the reeds
The gray-shouldered crows hobble about          the wren
          barely a mouthful          cocks her pert tail
and threatens to slaughter the white-footed cat in the bushes
          They do not understand that they are dying

They are threatening to leave us          how quickly we forget
          the way they taught us how to play our voices
opening soul to weightlessness          like the Spartan poet
          singing under the burden of  his old bones
to the chorus girls with their honey songs and their holy voices
          how he wished he could scoot like a kingfisher
lightly over the flower of  the waves          who boasted
          I know the tunes of every bird but I Alcman
found my words and song in the tongue of the strident partridge
          Where will we find songs          when the sleek-headed
mallards are gone          who chase each other around the pond
          the reluctant duck and the lovesick drake
The way she turns her head to the side to scold him
          whack  whack  whack  whack  whack          the way her boyfriend
chases off  his rival and then swims back          reeb  reeb
          with feeble reassurances          the way
he sits on top of  her          the way she flaps her wings
          to keep above water          the way they look
pleased with themselves          wagging their tails          smoothing
          each feather back in its right place

They are threatening to leave          but you may still catch them
          saying goodbye          stealthed in the cedar and cypress
at dawn          in the dark clarity between sleep and waking
          A run of  five notes on a black flute
another          and another          buried deep in the mix
          how many melodies can the air hold
And what they sing          so lovely and so meaningless
          may urge itself  upon you          with the ache
of   something  just beyond the point of  being remembered
          the trace of a brave thought in the face of sadness


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