In the yard, there are doves. Their nest is forked between the branches of our overgrown magnolia tree, which grows around the telephone wires, worn fences, and a tree house. Now, those branches push against the roof, sprawling and lazy at her age, slowly tipping it over, outgrowing the dream of a family 20 years ago, and then 20 years before that.
I’ve seen our magnolia tree bloom at least a hundred times, but in all that time, the doves nested there only once, resting in the branches, watching me as I watched them. They built a nest right under my nose, and upon seeing it, I scrambled to tell everyone. The doves that hum on the telephone lines are now expecting something new. I waited with bated breath, scrambling home after long weekends and climbing the tree at sunrise to see if baby birds would greet me. Two weeks and then two days before they would hatch, not getting too close.
wet grass and lemony blossoms
As the sun comes up in the east, shining through the branches, the bark wet beneath my hands, I peek over the ledge, and the eggs are gone. Points of new growth disappeared, and I never saw budding life that close for years to come.
Inside the laundry pole, there are sparrows. They come around again and again, as reliable as the seasons. Generations and generations of “those damned birds.” Their cries never bothered me though. Put your ear to the steel and listen: Over the shouting voices, you can still hear the soft chirps of spring.
I dreamt of those humble watchers, of watching baby sparrows take flight, carrying on, but I never saw them soar.
And I never saw them crash down from their perch, but I found them in our stagnant pond.
No one ever saw me climb up my magnolia’s well-worn branches, and no one saw me crash down screaming.
Baby sparrows have no safety net, and neither did I.
Momentary horror, then
On the wire, there are crows.
The murder suspiciously squawks from the magnolia tree.
This family of four or five
mirrors my own.
Parents teach children
to caw like everyone else,
and the baby crows practice day and night,
obnoxious bickering filling the budding silence.
Then parents depart,
and children do too.
But what if one never learned how to speak or fly,
and you could hear the distorted calls in the distance?
It couldn’t help but burden my mind:
What happens to those who can’t flow with time?
Before I knew it, they moved on,
and it feels right to see them go.
It’s something my family will never know.
Grow and go, little crow,