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Bobwhite Quail


Midsummer midday,

Blue balm the whole way,

As I hike a dirt road

I’ve many time strode,

Whose dusty banks yield

To woods-bordered field,

The grasshoppers cheery;

When I pause at a query,

A most emphatic quail’s,

A fowl who never fails

To take me for this gent

Who must have came and went,

Some guy I wouldn’t know

From Adam or Godot

To set the quail right,

Some fellow named Bob White.

And it’s tempting to reply,

“You’ve got the same wrong guy.

There’s no Bob White about.

Don’t wear his good name out.”

But that whistle from on yonder!

There’s just no whistle fonder,

So polished, keen and clear!

I’d rather say, “I’m here!”

If friendship I could foster

As a Bob White imposter.

He whistles from at most

Some lowly branch or post,

And just as oft as not

He’s too-well hid to spot,

That little burgher master,

Stout, but none is faster

Feet down in a clearing

At simply disappearing.

Bob White?  Yer—Bob White?

“No, friend, no not quite.

Frank, on a midday hike.

Take a message if you’d like.”

Now I’m not so daft to claim

He knows his christened name;

And that splendid two-note plea,

It’s not to Bob nor me;

The tongue that I reply in

Is Greek on top of Mayan.

But what is worth a song

If we haven’t played along?—

Though all the play I own

Is ours and ours alone.

But this bird who talks so tall

I fancy most of all

When I will my play to cease—

May Bob White rest in peace,

And from the woodland meadow

In full insect vibrato,

Through all the avian chatter,

Come two clear notes that matter—

No matter what they mean

To Frank or Bob or Jean

Or any soul between

The bobwhites on the scene.


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