gray, scaly legs
longer than the mown grass
and yellow talons
clutching at the air
caught my eye

a hatchling grackle
fragile as democracy
naked and ugly as our nation
lay screaming
from its nest in the eave
that I could barely reach
on a ladder

but I tried
easing its nearly featherless body
into the narrow opening
as near to the nest as my hand would fit

in the morning
it’s on the ground again
on its feet this time
still screeching
strong enough to latch onto a finger
of my cupped hand

I climb the ladder
tuck it once more into the chink

I will stand vigil
leave the ladder in place

hope is a thing still growing feathers
and I cannot abide any more death