Two pigeon-tails project beyond the roof,
frozen as gargoyle wings.
Some sparrows, less aloof,
make jaunty trills from the dogwood tree. Each sings
with tones that echo off the bricks and glass
fringing the avenue.
Above the rooftops pass
a pair of swallows. Keeping each other in view,
the sharp-winged hotshots outdo even Apollo’s
mythical arrows. One
turns right, the other follows.
Perhaps their destination is the sun,
which peers down at the wheels weaving their way
around this black-and-white
of lines and planes, while play
and struggle, joyful chirps and frantic fight
go side by side. Across the walk, a rat
sprints toward a hedge away
from human feet. A cat
sleeps near a chain-link fence. At close of day
she’ll hunt that hated rodent; then, at dawn,
the birds that hunt the seed
or larvae in the lawn.
As shadows shrink she’ll rest while others bleed
from falling prey to carnivore or car.
As I sit in my yard,
these notions float as far
and near as traffic on the boulevard,
above which pigeons have the bright idea
to flap in a great flock
toward the pizzeria
for the choicest crumbs this side of Antioch.
(Appeared in The Road Not Taken.)