The Phoebe Nest

One April morning, just below the inner ledge of
a column, the slats of my porch broke out with
the white measles of bird shit. I had heard a mother
Phoebe’s raspy fee-bee and, not wanting the
mess of daily excrement on my mahogany
or grass and mud crowning my column’s crisply
painted ledge, found two right-sized rocks near the road,
perching them there to thwart the bird’s instincts.

As a child I loved visiting my uncle’s farm
with its leaning barn of gray, splintering wood:
how the sun rays slanted through side windows, cracked
and dirty, showing motes of dust suspended in warm
and fragrant air. How the wooden doors on rusted rollers
remained open for swallows swooping in and out
in liquid arcs to nests propped on the lips of
lumber joists. How I’d listen to the fecundity
of cheeping hatchlings’ hunger and even climbed
the hayloft once to see their small and comic old-man
heads, their fine sprouts of down and closed eyes.

Straws in beak, the mother Phoebe returns each morning
to the inner ledge of my porch, fluttering around the disorder
of my symmetrically-placed rocks. For a week she sang
from a nearby apple tree, maybe a song of confusion,
maybe of sadness or indifference, before flying into the
mouth of another spring day. I had no choice but to listen
first to the apple tree’s silence, then the maples, oaks,
and pines and the pond they ringed followed by Lyman Hill
looming behind and finally the White Mountains whose
craggy caps scribed the western sky. Then I took each
rock and threw its common sense into the woods.

 

 

 

 

Ken Craft’s poems have appeared in The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, Plainsongs, Spillway, Slant, and numerous other journals. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Lost Sherpa of Happiness (Kelsay Books, 2018) and The Indifferent World (FutureCycle Press, 2016).