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Summer in Maine, and a bird poem

blue bird

blue fence flowers
We’re in the full flush of summer here, where Maine gets some Deep South-type heat and humidity and lots of folks complain about it. (Would they rather shovel snow?) Heavy rains and hot sunny days are making everything green grow and burst into bloom. Before first light, a cacophony of birds breaks out in the neighborhood. I keep refilling the bird feeder, and my bird bath often has a waiting line. This poem is by Maine’s redoubtable George Van Deventer. It’s dedicated to my sister Charlotte, who has toiled for many years (as a volunteer) for the Audobon Society where she lives in Washington state, not that far from the Other Portland.

When birds die

Imagine a day without bird song.
The ear would wither
like leaves in December.

Song fills all there is about us:
chickadee, raven, barnyard hen,
heron deep and raspy.

Finch in a cage.
Song of the eye in
a falcon’s whistle.

Pigeons coo
off the hand that feeds them.
Crows rattle the air

in an acclamation of company.

When the mine bird dies
we hear the silence
of its song.



Hope is the thing with feathers

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yellow bird on flowering branch

Spring has finally burst out in New England, weeks later than usual. The lilacs are blooming and their scent is everywhere. My white azalea is flowering and the peonies are budding. Here is a poem by Stephen Scaer that my mother sent me recently, a cleverly rhymed take on the “romance” of birdsong.


To-we, To-woo, To-woe! Must you sing
so early, bird? Can these announcements wait
until a better time: say, half-past eight?
You don’t think this cacophony will bring
a friend who’ll share her nest so late in spring?
April’s the month to serenade a mate,
and at the latest, May. Accept your fate:
This summer you’re alone. And please don’t cling
to adolescent hopes these clamorous,
brooding lays could win a hen.
Sincerity won’t make her amorous
this close to fall. It’s hard to come to terms
with passing time. You might see spring again.
But let’s talk after breakfast. Go find worms.

copyright 2014 by Stephen Scaer – from The National Review