Up and Gone

I dreamed of a City
Which had stretched
To the point of bursting.
Its new zones
Boasted two-by-four, truss,
Storm-pipe and cable.
Its old zones, their
High-rises and
Desperate renewal.
Smog, signs and noisemakers
Were everywhere.
Traffic constituted
The armoured blood
Of its arteries.
Milling crowds, the corpuscles.
Birds were not to be found.
They had left abruptly
For some remote wood-lots
And fields
Unsuitable for construction.
Few spoke of their
Life was just too busy,
Scheduled, connected,
But occasionally,
I made contact with
An old-timer,
In one of the sterile
Paving-stone parks.
His eyes would flash with glee
As he remembered the comic
Antics of the skipping sidewalk sparrow.
Beautiful purple of a
Grackle on freshly cut lawn.
Tapping of industrious downy
Woodpecker on the old oak.
White shower of
Pigeon wings at the
Civic fountain.
Crimson explosion of
Cardinal at top-of-tree,
Caroling with water-pipe
Scolding of blue-jay
In some territory dispute
With a squirrel.
Persistent gutturals
Of fledgling crows
Awaiting lunch from mother.
Dipping gold
Of finches over a
Field of milkweed.
Stunning red-wing
Perched on cat-tail and
Swaying in the streamside breeze.
Linear procession of
Mother Mallard and
Six youngsters, stopping traffic.
Robin Red-breast,
Trotting lordly over his sod,
Intent upon worm-sounding.
Love-bird doves,
On high-wire,
Cooing at close of day.
The old-timer, invariably,
Would apologize
About ‘going on so,
And taking up my time.’
True, I had many
Things on my day-minder.
And the trip across
The park was meant only
As a short-cut.
But his tale
Of the birds,
Departed feathered friends,
Registered in me
A heavy sense of loss:
We had robbed their peace.
We had chased them out.
We had cropped their trees.
We had trimmed their turf.
We had sullied their skies.
We had filled their ponds.
We had invited them to leave.
The silence eloquent.
Our souls were impoverished!


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