In these large and airy spaces
movement and color roam as in a room of mirrors:
tinkling between beautiful caesuras
like fountains in quiet places
come chirps and twitters, the brush
of palpitant feathers, circling from the bright prison
where the small birds' perpetual season
gleams in a tinsel hush.
Here the finches sun
and flitter, carelessly prodigal of their color:
strawberry finch and blood-bill weaver
and the unsober, black-hooded nun.
Listen to the green singer,
paradise wydah and orange weaver spin
color and music into an, African
young, deep-flowing river,
watched over by the toucan,
sad and clown-faced, from his nearby tent;
he scatters their grace notes, a cantor
with a voice that's broken.
Four snowy-owls squint an eye
against a sharp September light, watch
motionless, spaced on their dead branch
by the sure hand of a Dali.
A cage of coal-black vultures,
nine, turn their skinny backs to each other,
nervously silent, brother against brother,
no kin among creatures.
Next to them, the magpies,
gregarious as hens, are unimpressed.
And nearby perch two parrots dressed
in such eclatant guise
that the garish note
sticks in their throats; affront to eye and ear
they rot in isolation. Sour,
the concave-casqued horn
bill hunches his neck beneath his gold
crown and surveys with ringed old
eye his desolate cairn.
Like a deposed king,
black-robed, he gazes at his limited vistas,
and listens to the captured princes
at their carolling.
Wandering at large
through her mortgaged estate's vast landscaped grounds,
the dowager peacock makes her rounds,
with distraught but regal carriage.
Her only jewelry
an emerald bib and an uneasy tiara,
she staggers across the green arena
stiff with authority.
At the aviary door
she pauses, indignant, ruffles her feathers, shakes
her dingy train; then forsakes
her pride to cock an ear.