TEXT: DANIEL POPE
IMAGE: WILL SARDINSKY
Mama bird brings a bright red berry to her babies.
I can't see them but I can hear them, chirping their sandpaper necks over the porch breeze
From behind the obtrusive lip of the gutter.
When she leaves, they chirp loudly for a time and then quiet down faithfully.
Eugene Schieffelin brought the European Starling to North America
In an effort to introduce to the continent
Every bird mentioned by Shakespeare.
Leading to a hostile takeover of invasive species,
A slow-boiling ecological upheaval.
The illegitimate children of Shakespeare have inherited
The specter of genius begets
A thousand reflections of Narcissus that creep over the earth like termites
Feeding on the fundament of bedrock.
The bird flies back and forth all morning.
I am witness to the chirruping,
The tinny children's chorus added to the crescendoing symphony of bird noises in the early
I want to read but I'm distracted. Not by the noise so much as by the existence of throbbing life
Vibrating so close to my ear drums.
I don't know if they're European starlings,
The distant progeny of an American Anglophile,
But I know that she flaps her wings thin
Born aloft on no breeze, generating her own momentum
Exhibiting the kind of love that
Shakespeare never understood,
Eugene Schieffelin never understood,
I will never understand.
All I have are words, this book, this sunny afternoon.
It's enough for now.
But I know that I cannot create life and will only hold shadows, dripping through trembling fingers,
for only a moment;
Just long enough for me to steal her eggs and crack their sunny yolks into black inkspots.