Flock Gawk

A long line of Starlings assemble,

sit motionless following their breath

on a high wire ashram vibrating

like a pitch-perfect tuning fork.

A beady-eyed bird, chest puffed up

like Mussolini, gives the order to fly off.

With drill-team precision they wheel and swoop

swirling about in a unified flock over Shoprite’s

roof, dumpster-diving before reversing course,

turning en masse for a perfect landing as if directed

by the tower at Teterboro.

Taking off and landing for no reason,

soaring for sheer pleasure like skydivers

linked together hovering over wisps of cumulus

clouds on a cushion of air.

With the choreographic finesse of the Blue Angels

the birds use the vortex supplied by the ones

ahead of them to speed their flight, flying wing-tip

to wing-tip to maximize the rising whirlwind

streaming off their neighbors.

They save most of their energy flying in staggered

V formation, sharing news about prowling predators

and where best to roost, swerving back and forth

until a consensus ensues.

Two birds unfurl their iridescent plumage and in

spontaneous rapture fly off declaring their love forever.

After preening at a puddle of melting ice, they deftly huddle

together on a branch of a bare cherry tree adorned with a cluster

of luminous red Xmas balls even though the Ides of March

have been blowing all day.

Milton P. Ehrlich