Today's poem is by Stephen Derwent Partington

The Grey Mousebirds
        for Mary Oliver

Sometimes, as you stand there-they are that much
unafraid—a flitting mousebird snaps a desert date's
dry neck. You'll hear it plummet to the rain-forsaken deck,
then stand like those who spy a crime yet freeze, inactive,
as the mousebird feathers down to flay the stone.
And when the flesh has been consumed, the harsh deed done,
you'll watch the mousebird turn and run—yes, run, like mice,
yes, skipping mice—back up the dry date's tangled trunk
to fell another, then another and another one.
You'll focus on the bird you noticed first, but there are
six inside the date tree's thorny canopy, all snapping necks,
descending and ascending till the date tree's void of fruit;
and though you'll think it is a massacre, the seeds have been
denuded and the clouds are breaking grey across the plain.

Copyright © 2017 Stephen Derwent Partington All rights reserved
from New Orleans Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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