Birding by Ear


The poem requires a mind
that finds meaning, even divination,
in language. Non-fiction,
up to academic standards, demands
evidence. Nothing less will do.
Most of us read fiction and this
needs a taste for action, motivation.

Lately, as have you, I have
thought about our war and its purpose,
motivation. But I have also closely
listened to the wood thrush, analyzed
its song like a tune by T.S. Monk
or J.S. Bach concerto. One belongs
to the loved ones who ostracize us, too.

The robin, on the other hand, is never calm.
It is the flute-like tones, yes, but mostly
the patient, meditative clarity
of the thrush that enchants. One wants
to be that bird. How will we attain
calm clarity for the species Homo sapiens?
Through the discipline of asking questions.

A terrorist bombs, a dog barks,
we do not know their motivations.
Can I be content to be silent
while the evidence is sifted by the many
to a single answer. The World Trade Center
could have been a sacrifice, queen's sacrifice,
ending history for global governance.

Too much doing is the commonest of mortals' sins.
Peace has many faces,
the wood thrush in the canopy is one.
A word of praise here, an encouraging word there.
A wraith, a ghost against a busy man,
verbose, sure of the path, always hungry.
Nothing satisfies like the thrush's song.


Copyright 2007 by Robert Ronnow.