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Listening to the Language of Bird Song
by Cynthia Pratt

They talk of weather:
rain or heat.
I hear my name briefly,
when I'm generous
with seed in my feeder,
or with scattered bread crumbs.
They condemn me for my neglect.

Back and forth from handmade bird houses,
my weak attempt to please,
they make it clear they can move
if I don't shape up.
When I try to defend myself, the judges
blink at my awkwardness,
fly off, refusing to listen.

Today, I remembered.
The feeders are full,
a dish of crumbled toast
sits waiting for any of my boarders.

Nuthatches and chickadees fly
in and out of the butterfly bush.
The sunflower seeds scatter below
as the birds briefly visit the feeding perches.

They let me talk in sign language
as long as I know my place.
Fly back each time.
Forgiveness sings in their voices.


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