After he'd left him in our hands,
His savior cycled away. From porch

To plastic bag to us wandering birders.
"I knew I'd find you here," he said.

He meant, 'by this pond' where
There's always bigger game to watch.

But not more exquisite: dentellated
Feathers of cream and brown - lace-work

For an emperor's cloak. Each of us
Became an augur - all predicting life:

One from his orbed eye which held,
She swore, a midnight sun. I, from

His heartbeat which I felt transmit
From the small puff of himself
To my warm, outstretched fingers.

We hurried him to the nature center
Talking of living burials in benighted times

Past. We hurried him to his own box,
Spread under him the rough nap of a towel,

Phoned the authorities and waited for…
His concussed majesty to arise, announce

With his rasping call that science triumphs
Over ignorance, patience over death.

And went home to learn it wasn't so.
Sweetly oblivious to our concerns, one

Mordant talon escaping like a lock of hair
From this dandy's false allure, he alighted

on that other world he'd visited so often.

J. C. Foritano


During a Friends group bird walk on November 17, 2012, a man on a bicycle stopped and told us that he had with him a dead bird he found on his porch that might interested us. He then handed us a plastic bag with a Saw-whet owl in it. The bird's eyes were closed, but when we pulled down on the lower lids, they opened wide, making us believe the bird was alive. Jim, who wrote this poem, carried the bird in his warm hands to the Maynard Ecology Center, where we put the bird in a box to be taken to my house. I placed it in a warm corner and watched it closely. The bird never moved, and by that afternoon it was obvious that the bird was dead. I then learned that Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont would be happy to have the owl for mounting. The mounted bird will be used for educational purposes.
E. Wylde