The cardinal crashing into my window
can never love himself. His feathered anger
collides with his imaged others everywhere.
Each small injury, every loud thunk, the fault
of something or some red bird outside himself.
That scarlet stain and that fluff smeared on the pane,
they mark who is to blame for crossing the lines,
coming over the boundary of scrub pines,
count the cost of having to defend his nest.
And the rest? The birds in other windows?
Wherever he goes they are there full plumage,
full rancor, full stare. Insistent as tides,
crashing again and again, they demand
the clash of beak again beak, wings’ fury,
sortie, sally, assault. He, the one who keeps
his own disdain locked in his chest, an unmapped
treasure both unknown and unfound, must attack.
He can not be done until they all fall.
They will not fall, until they all fall as one.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 23, Issue 2.
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