As I’d hoped, the weird song of the wood thrushes is all around me now, after their nesting. I thought I’d only hear it in the morning and the evening, but they sing from the high trees in the copses around our house all the time. According to this guy, they must be at the height of their “territorial breeding activity.”
I keep drawing everyone’s attention to it — my husband’s, my daughter’s, my sister’s; and, today, while he was visiting, my friend Jon’s — but no one cares. No one tries to distinguish the thrush’s ee-o-lay from the enormous ambient birdnoise of Garrett Park.
I know they don’t care, and I don’t mind, and I turn the whole thing into a joke. Let’s humor Miss Marple…
I was just as indifferent years ago when my mother, sitting with me in her beautiful Japanese garden, hushed our conversation and told me to listen to this or that impossible-to-distinguish piping. She held her 1980 Field Guide to the Birds by Roger Tory Peterson in her lap, and I smiled as she now and then, with a little pencil, placed an X on his Systematic Checklist next to pileated woodpecker or purple martin. I couldn’t name the plants in her garden, and I couldn’t distinguish the birds who pulled at her feeders.
Now I take that book from the books I inherited, and I study very closely the thrushes, the plovers. I even discover a line of poetry in a heading on page 121: HEADS OF BELTED PLOVERS.
Boots of spanish leather, heads of belted plovers.
Heads of belted plovers is the beginning of a poem.
I’ll try to think of one.