Acadian Flycatcher

 

 

                            He won't be singing anytime soon,

                                The Acadian flycatcher.

 

                                Don't listen for him in the glee club

                                   Warbling at every garish dawn

                                          And pleading encore! in the evening.

 

                                                     And he won't indulge in songs of sorrow

                                                         Sung in ciphered praise to Sorrow.

 

 

                            In the daylong gloom of the understory—

                               Clear of the Sun's net of enticing illusions—

                             He wanders the branches like a mendicant

                              In the sackcloth of his ashen garb,

 

                                          His wide emotional eye

                                           Dark and moist from all the pain in the world—

 

                               All the injustice, cruelty

                                And indifference—

      

                           From the mayfly and its greeting goodbye

                             To the savage snapping turtle

                                 So hatefully frozen in Time—

 

                                                 To the pale tree cricket

                                       That he himself is compelled

                                         To swoop on and devour.

 

                                  In the hush of the dappled murk

                                   He emits the cry

                                               Of a self-flagelant—

 

                                       His defiance,

                                                 His protest,

 

                                           His sharp rebuke

                                             That is almost a curse.

 

                                                No! I won't!

                                                           

                                                         Yes! We can!

 

                                        You will not!    Stop and think!

 

                                                      Change your life!

 

                                                            His entire body of work

                                                            Is one bare bone of contention:

 

                                                 That the way it is

                                                      Is simply not acceptable.

 

**

    

                        But O—                       

 

                               In Arcadia,

 

                                       Upon Isaiah's Holy Mountain,

 

                          On the somnolent canvas of The Peaceable Kingdom

 

 

                                                    He'd lift his song with full-throated ease!

 

 

                       The woods would ring with his praises

                                     Until the very Creator would blush with pride!

 

                                    

                                        He would shame into silence

                     

                                    The divine wood thrush,

 

                                                     The fabulous nightingale,

 

                                   Even that gold-beaten canary

                                     With the ruby heart

                                      That choirs in the courts of Byzantium—

 

 

                         Because his birth was anything

                               But a sleep and a forgetting

                                  Of the Arcadia from which he came.

 

**

 

                                      I want to tell him—

 

                          My noble little friend!

 

                                  You can't wait to be happy

                                       Until everyone else is happy too!

 

                                   But until prey and predator

                                      Go the dusty way

                                           Of Guelph and Ghibelline,

 

                                    Until eyesight is fully restored

                                       To the star-nosed mole

 

                                                             And each and every springtail

                                                              Only ever leaps for joy,

                                      

                                     Until fireflies brand into the night

                                       The categorical imperative

                                           Of Immanuel Kant,

                                     

                                      Until the stars—

 

                                                     No, he won't be singing anytime soon,

                                                       The Acadian flycatcher.