Birds of AmericaAmy Gerstler
Naked and truthful the birds of America joined forces under a pale winter sun that hung over my house like a sucked cough lozenge or spooked moon for what felt like centuries but in truth was just the season of my comeuppance. Black and white warblers, house wrens, fox sparrows and finches built intricate yet casually tousled nests resembling scarecrows’ hairdos, right out in the open, where I could easily see them, and nuthatches too, but I was quite blind. Briefly seen, though not by me, was the sickly heroin bird who nods off mid-twitter, waking in late spring craving koolaide and Halloween candy. Vireos appeared-- not much to look at yet armed with warm, winning personalities if you but trouble to get to know them. Nature thus seductively rustling her petticoats could not touch me for longest time after you left. I was deaf to the eerie orchestra of crickets seep seep seeping on tepid summer eves, and did not taste the pot brownies friends offered which I dutifully chewed but could not get me high. Nor did expertly mixed gin and tonics flecked with colorless pulp of fresh lime take the edge off, enliven me or give me peace. Nor could pork chops fried with apple slices rouse me, nor the smell of potatoes lyonaisse; nor did the clownish antics of a handsome black Labrador cavorting at the frilly hem of the foaming ocean make me grateful. Then fall hurled itself down with its customary thud. Intrepid birds of America, you persisted though I was such a goner. Scruffy starlings--not considered desirable birds but dear to me now, modest thrushes and buntings, and male quail with topknots like commas: there was no flourish of trumpets or 21 gun salutes heralding the recovery of one who’d believed herself dead, only more birdsong persevering till I could finally hear again. Though I know full well it was never your feathered intent to revive me, still I find myself deeply in your debt. These flung handfuls of millet, peanuts and sunflower seed hardly seem a fitting or rich enough reward.
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