The hedge must have seemed as ever,
seeds and yew berries secreted beneath,
small edible matter only a bird’s eye could see,
mixed with the brown of shed needles and earth—
a safe quiet cave such as nature affords the meek,
entered low, on foot, the feathered head
alert to what it sought, bright eyes darting
everywhere but above, where net had been laid.
Then, at some moment mercifully unwitnessed,
an attempt to rise higher, to fly,
met by an all but invisible limit, beating wings
pinioned, deep instinct denied. O panicky
thrashing and flutter, in daylight and air,
their freedom impossibly close, all about!
How many starved hours of struggle resumed
in fits of life’s irritation did it take
to seal and sew shut the berry-bright eyes
and untie the tiny wild knot of a heart?
I cannot know, discovering this wad
of junco-fluff, weightless and wordless
in its corner of netting deer cannot chew through
nor gravity-defying bird bones break.