Field Notes from an Old Chair
by D. R. James

Well, they’ve come, these early crews
though it’s only March, which in Michigan
means maybe warm one day,
the few new tender greens making

sense, then frigid and snow the next four,
fragile bodies ballooned, all fuzz
but feeding and competing just the same.
Who would’ve ever guessed you’d be happy

anticipating birds? Since you’ve taken up
the old folks’ study of how certain species
seem to like each other, showing up in sync
like the field guides specify, your chair’s

been scribing the short, inside arc between the feeder
and where you’ll catch a bloody sun going down.
Then, mornings, if you forget, two doves startle you
when you startle them from a window well,

and as if the titmice and chickadees,
finches and nuthatches can read
they trade places on perches all day–
size, you notice, and no doubt character

determining order, amount, duration.
At this point you could’ve written the pages
on juncos or on your one song sparrow so far,
plumped and content to peck along the deck beneath.

And that pair of cardinals you’d hoped for?
They’ve set up shop somewhere in the hedgerows
and for now eat together, appearing
to enjoy each other’s company, while all above

out back crows crisscross the crisp expanse
between the high bones of trees
and the high ground that runs the dune down
to the loosened shore. Soon hawks will hover,

and when a bloated fish washes up overnight,
luring vultures to join the constant, aimless
gulls, you’ll be amused you ever worried
that the birds would never come.

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