from Strange Birds; Twitching Birds
by Sylvia Legris

copyright © Sylvia Legris, 2005

4

What a witches’ sabbath of wings
– Robinson Jeffers

Little bird, little bird, LET ME OUT. Not-a-chance Not-a-chance Forget-get-get-get-it

Damn this cracked crow! Damn this wicked net! A snare of ritual and vexation: Icterinæ Tyranny. Grackle Sacrament. Sins of the Feather. Banging your head till you’re blackbird and blue.

All the time in Hell on your hands and an eternity of bird devotions on an endless string of millet … Ave Aviary, Ave Oriole, Hail bob-bob-bob Bobolink …

Dead of night and captive to an unremitting chorus of blackbirds: Rusty Falsetto (creaking demons and doors and coming unhinged!), Nasal-Toned Tricolour (triple-glazed windows, blue in the face), Quiscalus mexicanus … Arriba! Arriba! Arriba!

Grisly dreams. A palpitating litany of shadowy birds: Quiscalus quiscula (Commonest Common Grackle), Euphagus cyanocephalus (Brewer’s Blackbird, volcanic stomach), Euphagus … esophagus (a nagging bird in the throat and your hands

won’t stop trembling).