Saturday July 23, 2011

Overcast at sunrise, with a cool breeze. A gray catbird in the middle of the gray driveway picks pebbles for the collection in its gizzard.


  1. (Not technically pebbles, but granules. I love the geologists’ definition: “A pebble is a clast of rock with a particle size of 4 to 64 millimetres based on the Krumbein phi scale of sedimentology.”)


    At sunrise, they rouse their children,
    if they have not yet mercifully died,
    to trek through desert mirage searching
    for oases, cacti, lizards, iguanas, worms,
    anything. It’s a landscape of clean bones,
    or carrion abandoned by even the crows
    that fell prey to the ghastly death march.

    I take a guilty gulp at my now tepid tea
    when I espy a catbird swallow pebbles
    strewn on the sunbaked driveway:
    I wonder if a starved child’s bloated belly
    in Somalia can hold as many rock chips
    to ease the pangs of hunger? Catbirds
    prefer strewn granules to desert sand,
    I reckon, but neglect a usual morning shrug.

    —Albert B. Casuga

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