I’ve always been a whatever-level-comes-below-novice birder, though if birding madness is genetic I’m bound to get it one of these days, especially if it skips generations. I went birding this morning with a resident expert, who is also a professor in the SIBS program. Coincidentally, his last name is Swallow.

We had a lovely outing in the woods, though we heard more birds than we saw. We did lay our ocularly enhanced eyes on kingbird, meadowlarks, indigo bunting, mockingbird, some kind of thrasher, grackles, fish crow, mourning dove, phoebe, cowbirds, and the rare to see grasshopper sparrow. This is why it helps to go with an expert – I can be in awe at the appropriate times. [As an aside, there’s a fantastic (as usual) radiolab show on cowbirds and the unintended consequences of trying to eradicate them to save the Kirtland’s warbler.]

The grasshopper sparrow inspired me to write one of my even more rare poems:

Conversation Between a Grasshopper and a Grasshopper Sparrow

You flathead on the fence trilling such prattle.
The last note of your tune has too much rattle.

    Young grasshopper, be more circumspect.
    I’m a bird, not a mere insect.

A bird! said the grasshopper as he scurried away,
Life is too melodic and sweet to be prey!

   Oy vey, thought the sparrow, these hoppers are mad.
    I’m called a ‘life bird’, he should be glad.

God’s death was the big bang

God’s death was the big bang,

Stars the embers of the pyre.

Life has been mourning ever since.

Rumi’s caravan spread across eons of time, 

Picking up shreds of evidence of God’s existence.

I listened in a room full of believers, ones who

Tell us to revel in life.

I want to tell them they are wrong, wrong,

Wrong. The more we look, the smaller 

We get. And we should be like this

And cheer? If I’m nothing but fading warmth

In dying ash, I at least want the strength

To touch the next star and whisper something beautiful.