Hardly anyone has ever said, Oh look, darling
at that stunningly beautful starling!” –
not because you aren’t beautful, especially when your irridescent feathers catch
the sun, but rather because anyone who has seen you snatch
nuts from the beaks of smaller birds at a feeding station
buffeting them with your wings as you fly off with screeches of elation;
or tried in vain to think clearly while you and your gang insult each other
from neighbouring roofs, finds that your hooligan character smothers
your bodily charm; so not many say of you “My word!
Would you eyeball that elegant bird!”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, on the other hand, supposed
you were intelligent, because a theme that he’d composed
three weeks before, you whistled back to him in perfect pitch.
He kept you as a pet and often listened to see if you would snitch
more of his best tunes. He was grieved when you died
and gave you an elaborate funeral. I’ve occasionally tried
to whistle to you, but you prefer to imitate the ring
of the neighbour’s mobile. Maybe I should sing?
Like Amadeus I consider you smart
in body and mind, in life and art.
But once, when I was a boy, I inched
up to your treehole nest to find what could be pinched
while you and your partner scolded from a branch
alternately leaving it to launch
yourselves at my face, as I pulled aside the screening
leaves to look into your woven nest, leaning
over the five eggs of palest blue you’d laid upon it.
Blue amidst the brown grass where you’d spun it
as if they’d blown here through some gap in spacetime
from some perfect world, some gracetime.
Yet these alien bits of beauty were filled with earthly beings
born featherless and blind whose shrill demanding squeakings
kept you on the wing for weeks, so that each might eat and drink
and grow into smart hooligans like you. Or me: a sly wink
from beyond that says we’re always close to causing bother
but not so far from something other.