Reading Auspices; or What it Means to Be a Poet
“observation by an augur especially of the flight
and feeding of birds to discover omens”
– Merriam Webster Dictionary
To be fair, my mother didn’t force me to be
a hopeless romantic; at 5, I would meet a girl
at the doors of our church, every Sunday,
to walk her to our classroom. Who knows what
birds flew the skies above my birth…
Even so, my mom adored a movie, and I adored
that movie, titled “The Thornbirds,” in which
the central theme circles New Zealand folklore
about a bird. A silent bird. Only in the moments
before its death, after impaling itself on the thorns
of a particular tree, would it sing. One superlative song,
existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen,
and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought
at the cost of great pain…” Or so says the legend.
This theme serves as metaphor for the characters,
their passions driving them, from the day they are born,
onto their own particular, and chosen, thorn.
I’m a grown man, now, and like the subject of a Blake transition:
I’ve learned the truth. The thornbird is a legend—but shrikes
could not be more real. Have you heard of the Loggerhead?
The Kentucky bird of prey without talons sufficient to kill?
How she thrives near the spikes of the Honey Locust Tree?
How she feeds on small snakes, lizards, and amphibians,
but only after carrying them to the tree, or a stretch of barbed wire,
casting them upon the spikes? How she feeds on them,
yet breathing, their blood washing over the instrument
of their deaths? This is the reality. This is the world
in which we live, and die, and dream. And yet I live,
and I dream, and I sing the folkloric songs of the dying.