NOTES: I learned something about birds this winter. They have an uncanny sense of smell. I was amazed at how quickly ravens zeroed in on meat scraps in the snow that I tossed to my dogs. Bewildered, I said to Hub, “Can something with a cardboard face and a rigid nose have such a sense of smell?”
“Certainly,” Hub said. “That’s what tells them which bags to rip open in the back of a truck. Bread bags, grocery bags, stuff like that.”
All quite amazing to me but I have something to tell you that might be equally amazing. You probably think that with a rigid template encompassing their mouths and noses, birds cannot smile. But, oh yes they can. They smile with body language. With a cocky strut, like fashion models proceeding down a runway. They smile with bright little eyes, and stretched necks, and perky heads. I’ve seen them smile. I know they can.
The following poem takes this into account. I’m not a polished poet but these are special feelings about situations that I wanted to put in a “poem treasure box,” an idea recently inspired by one of my favorite poets, Pauline.
The Look of Destiny
I pull him from his hiding place so timid and withdrawn
And peer into the little face hiding in the lawn.
He shivers as he looks at me, I see a cloud of fear
And I begin to tremble at the image in that mirror.
He is the Ugly Puppling, with crooked legs and black
He has no sporting nature to make up for that lack
I study in those little eyes the look that he sends back
And in that exchange I promise him that we will make a pact.
This puppy, he will never go; He will stay with me
Those pleading eyes
Have yielded him
A happy destiny.
I head toward the hen-house, pail swinging from my arm
Ax safely in the wood block, nothing threatens harm.
I hear the hens all cheering, “Yea, Yea, the time has come!
For us to share a morning meal and loiter in the sun.”
Some hitch a ride upon my pail and stretch their necks with glee
They cluck with sweet contentment, with peepers fixed on me
And in that bartered vision, that opaque and ‘fowl’ blink
A transitionary message, uncanny and distinct
“Today the world is well with we,
A safe and happy destiny”
A sparkle flashes in a truck
Among the cattle, fumes, and muck
And there, behind a narrow board
A diamond tear in a great brown orb.
A giant orb that stares at me
Begging redemption, “please set me free.”
The cattle truck can no longer be seen
The light has changed from red to green
But now a flood of hopeless rage
Like the hapless beast in that mobile cage
That pitiful eye welded on me
Told me so plainly what was to be…
And it, my friends, was a sad destiny.