On the Nature of Things: An Apology for the Starlings

Amy gathers a fledgling
fallen from its nest and sets it
in a shoebox filled with small,
random holes on cardboard walls.
Light mars the darkness with
little stars. Its mother hasnít
moved once from a trough
in the powerline, instead only
watches as we drive off with
her young. Having called
around the city, Amy explains
a woman nearby takes in these
orphans, mostly birds found
with broken wings, beaks raised
skyward as necks swing blindly,
hoping for some grace. It isnít
until we deliver the bird we learn
it is a starling.

The woman shrugs
as if sheís ashamed to admit
her love only stretches so far.
I donít care for starlings, she says,
but assures us there is another
volunteer who will, wrestling
with the box in her arms as she
goes on to explain how starlings
have been known to swoop
down in numbers on hawks,
or worse, how mothers will lay
their eggs among the sky
blue ones in a robinís nest,
and the robin, unaffected by
what it discovers, hatches
them all, raises each fledgling
as her own until the mother starling,
having waited nearby, watching,
zeroes in on the nest and kills
the robin.

The pink, fallen blooms of
crepe myrtles swarm the edge
of streets on our drive home.
A faint yellow moon finally
fades among the glowing caution
lights along Monticello Avenue.
Learning the story of the starling,
Amy has little to say, we both do,
though at one point, she looks
ahead, says, I donít care. It was still
a baby. I know what she means,
though it takes some convincing,
our reflection leaving us, briefly,
without words.