For two years, they returned
to the bluebird house,
several times a season
to lay eggs and raise their young.
The male’s iridescence in the sun,
a deep blue sapphire blessing
with his mate, swooping over the water
in aerobatic dances with their dinner —
the insects that thrive here as well.
Such a noisy lake at times,
tree swallow chirps and gurgles amid
the eerie meow of the catbird,
the redshouldered hawk’s kreeya
and at dusk, the pure cacophony
of the ranids, the creaks and croaks
of toads and the tuba call
of the bullfrog. And though
I try to heed the warning caw of crows,
I was deaf to danger,
only noticing they no longer came
to the nesting box, now inhabited
by sparrows. The smell alerted me,
for the new birds had killed
the defenseless native mother bird
and built their nest atop her
decaying body. Such savage cruelty
in my own backyard! Even though
it echoed the behavior of my ancestors
building a civilization
with the same complete disregard
for native life. I haven’t mentioned
the blares and sirens
from the nearby highway — it’s not poetic.
Rather than face
my own barbarity, I defend
these swallows, determined to trap
the invaders. I cannot see a way
to integrate these two forces,
and here lies the root of
my society’s ills: we fight and resist.
We clearly see the bad
in the other. How can we
find a way to synthesize,
while the gene pool declines
and the hidden costs grow?
What tool will shine the light on the pain
we’ve never acknowledged,
the beauty destroyed in the act of creation?
When will I learn that only when I am most
triggered, appalled, enraged
am I close to the key — the aching
wound that I must admit
the true cacophony deep inside.
I can offer here
the words: I am sorry.
I am part of the resolution.
I am your most
valuable resource, the one you most fear.
Don’t turn away. Take me in.
In the heart of the destruction and chaos,
this is where we find ourselves.