MOTHER

TEXT: DANIEL POPE

IMAGE: WILL SARDINSKY

Mama bird brings a bright red berry to her babies.

I can't see them but I can hear them, chirping their sandpaper necks over the porch breeze

From behind the obtrusive lip of the gutter.

When she leaves, they chirp loudly for a time and then quiet down faithfully.

Eugene Schieffelin brought the European Starling to North America

In an effort to introduce to the continent

Every bird mentioned by Shakespeare.

Leading to a hostile takeover of invasive species,

A slow-boiling ecological upheaval.

The illegitimate children of Shakespeare have inherited

Plastic shapes;

The specter of genius begets

A thousand reflections of Narcissus that creep over the earth like termites

Feeding on the fundament of bedrock.

The bird flies back and forth all morning.

I am witness to the chirruping,

The tinny children's chorus added to the crescendoing symphony of bird noises in the early

afternoon.

I want to read but I'm distracted. Not by the noise so much as by the existence of throbbing life

Vibrating so close to my ear drums.

I don't know if they're European starlings,

The distant progeny of an American Anglophile,

But I know that she flaps her wings thin

Born aloft on no breeze, generating her own momentum

Exhibiting the kind of love that

Shakespeare never understood,

Eugene Schieffelin never understood,

I will never understand.

All I have are words, this book, this sunny afternoon.

It's enough for now.

But I know that I cannot create life and will only hold shadows, dripping through trembling fingers,

for only a moment;

Just long enough for me to steal her eggs and crack their sunny yolks into black inkspots.