stream

The crackle of a grackle. The boosterism of a rooster. The incessant cheer of a vireo. My ears take refuge in the creek, that labile Babel.

Two crows fly past, staying just inside the woods’ edge. Over the several voices of the creek, a cerulean warbler’s ascending, buzzy trill.

My ears are still adjusting to the lack of urban noise. Crow, chickadee, red-bellied woodpecker. The stream’s slow gurgle under the yard.

The wild black currants are succumbing to their usual wilt—an extra shadow eating them from the inside as the stream gurgles between them.

A ruffed grouse drums and a field sparrow sings with almost the same accelerating rhythm. The hollow gurgle of the stream under the yard.

The rushing stream in one ear, a song sparrow in the other. Smoke from someone’s burn pile. High up, a V of migrant geese heading north.

A cloudless sky. Chipmunks and squirrels run back and forth across the melting snow. A gurgling chorus from all the springs and ditches.

Birds flutter back and forth across the yard to drink the dark water of the spring. The frigid air glitters with scattered snowflakes.

Well after sunrise, a screech owl trilling like the god of tree crickets. I notice that the barberry above the creek is livid with fruit.

The barberry bush above the stream is in bloom, demure rows of yellow bells that smell like sperm. A grackle flies up—his raspy call.

Two catbirds tangle in the air above the stream. A hummingbird dive-bombs a gnatcatcher. The first great-crested flycatcher holds forth.

Sunny and warm. A goldfinch drops down among the black currant bushes with their half-open leaves to dip her bill into the sky-blue stream.

After a night below freezing, the daffodils sag on their stalks like half-deflated balloons in the bright sun. The stream’s quiet gurgle.

After all-night rain, the sound of rushing water in all directions. I can barely hear the birds. A distant, dull clanking from the quarry.

Up early, I can’t set my hat-brim low enough to block the sun, so settle for bedazzlement. Two squirrels by the stream walking in circles.