I Said To His Ecstatic Face – Allan Padgett

I said to his ecstatic face:
look at the Fairy Martin
the way it swoops and glides through air
so thick with insects that feeding seems a breeze
and then this sleek whispering bird
darts under protecting eaves
momentarily perches on rim of mud nest
poking insects into flaming yellow maws
of three squawking, swallowing nestlings.

Nearby, a baby Ibis fledged and perched
has its long curved juvenile bill
probed deep by its mother’s
slightly longer, likely stronger, bill.
And what was shot inside that gaping tube?
Fish custard, frog legs, a crustacean squirming
a writhing desperate worm pulled sucking
from its wet and muddy refuge
adding mass and nutriment to white-feathered juvenile
that clumsy demanding bag of feathers
and fluff, with sticks that pass for legs.

Then, from deep within Melaleuca
a burst of flapping brown, cinnamon,
white-buff under belly
beady yellow eyes
paler yellow legs and feet –
crowned by black.

A strong straight olive-green beak leading
daytime sleep disrupted and disturbed
a shattered nocturnal day-dreaming –
the cost of Nankeen Night Heronism
as it applies to living next door to Bunnings.

A small watered refuge of biotic diversity remains,
alive, turbulent, fecund, feeding, writhing.
Mating, shrieking, masticating, defaecating.
The ammoniacal residue, the processed remnants of ingestion
squirted and stuck accumulating to nest edges and boughs.

All, living daily in dangerous proximity
to vast temples of commerce
an overwhelming worship of buy at all costs.
A spending frenzy on one side of the bitumen
and on the other –
birds playing out feathered ruffled lives
filled with squawks, clapping bills and flight.

A cacophony of joyful birdsong,
dipping and swaying,
curving gracefully through parabolas of need –
away from the penetrating tinnitus
of rushing human crowds.