Anticipation

They aren’t flying.

They are just sitting at the end of the driveway in a little forlorn huddle, about ten of them.

No more darting and diving in front of the porch. No more shameless displays of acrobatic somersaults.  Ten swallows just sitting in deep contemplation at the end of my driveway staring at the sky.

Anticipation.

Will they leave today? Will they linger a little while longer?

I sat motionless on the porch and hoped they would stay. These little friends have brought me such joy every morning. If I ever woke with night burdens still pulsing it only took a visit to the morning porch to reassure me. They always greeted me with chirps and drive by wing salutes to awaken my heart to the possibilities of a new day.

It hurts to see them motionless at the road’s edge as if somehow childhood was slipping away and the long flight to somewhere haunted them.

Couldn’t they stay a little longer carefree and young? Does it have to change?

There is sadness in the air today, an anxious anticipation of a farewell that I don’t think I can avoid.  Still, they linger in the distance staring off into the mystery.

But wait.

They’re up.
They’re circling.
They’re coming this way slipping happily under the porch to their mud huts. I hear singing again!

The morning sun is now above the distant marsh pines, and I am happy.

I always hated goodbyes.

David R. Denny 2018

Hungry-swallows.jpg

https://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/technique/wildlife_photography/photographing-swallows-60356

 

The Invitation

Bird feeder

I hung the invitation beneath the tree in the backyard and waited. I was so excited. Who would stop by, I wondered? I don’t get many visitors way out here by the sea, so I was hopeful.

But nobody came.  Nobody.

Each morning for the first few days since I had hung the invitation beneath the tree on a little golden hook I had screwed into the low hanging branch, I had waited breathlessly. Somebody will come, I said to myself. And then when they do come, I will greet them, and we will be friends.

But nobody came.  Nobody.

Perhaps it was my fault, I thought. Maybe I had been a bit vague about who could come. I hadn’t meant to exclude anyone, but the feeder was built for the songbirds only. The little-spiraled wire that encircled the feeding tube was thin and delicate, so the invitation was for the smaller songbirds.

Each morning after my initial disappointments vanished, I checked the tube to make sure the birdseed was plentiful. It was. No one touched it. I also cleaned out the bird feeder that sat beside it keeping the water fresh.

Two days ago, when I rose with waning enthusiasm to check the feeder, I was so surprised. A little cardinal was on the wire pecking at one of the feeder holes. I stared through my binoculars so I wouldn’t disturb him. Finally, I thought, they’re coming. And they did. Soon the Brown-headed Nuthatch stopped for a snack along with a boisterous Northern Mockingbird.

Then something unusual happened. Some huge blackbirds sat nearby on a fence rail reading the invitation. They saw the fine wire and the tiny holes and sensed that they weren’t welcome. I stood back and wondered what they would do. I noticed they chatted furiously with one another, their conversation public and a bit edgy.

Then one flew over to the feeder and grasped the spiraled wire. It didn’t fit his oversized claws, but he was tenacious. He hovered, half-perched on the wire, wings fluttering to help him keep his balance. He tore at the feeder holes and poked out huge chunks of seed that fell to the ground.

At first, I was annoyed. These birds were too big, I thought. I hadn’t invited them. But then I slowly realized that they had determined that the invitation was for them.

I’m glad they come now. I’ve thought more about this whole thing, and I have decided that invitations should always be for everyone.

David R. Denny

 

Lucky Penny

Owl1

The claw marks on the front porch said it all–Owl.

And Penny was missing. She’s an indoor cat and hates to get her paws dirty. Each morning brings a feline routine that begins in front of her mirror grooming, getting the whiskers just right, fluffing up the hair on her elegant tail, etc. Toss her outside, and she’ll hate you for life.

But Penny was missing, and the ominous owl talon marks stretched from the door to the front steps. Off an on all night long we called from the porch our hands clenching the railing, our eyes searching the dark yard for any sign of movement. Our somber pleas blended with the distant voices of pond frogs and crickets who hadn’t seen her.

I tried consoling my wife while standing on top of the claw marks so she wouldn’t see the traces of nature’s cruelty. “Something has happened to her,” she wailed. Unable to summon a wise Greek proverb relevant to this emergency, I merely shrugged. “She’ll be fine. She’s just exploring.” Even I didn’t believe that.

After a fitful night of difficult sleep, I woke early and stepped outside. No Penny. The claw marks were fresh and deep. I pieced the crime together in my mind. The owl had studied her patterns of peering through the screen door. He had timed Penny’s brief dalliances with the outside world, her ever so short and tentative excursions a few paces from the door onto the porch.

He had watched, veiled behind pinecones and hunger, lurking. And as Penny played with a cricket just beyond the safety of the den door he struck, his threatening talons striking the jugular and dragging her across the rough boards into the upper branches of the marsh pines.

Just as I was preparing myself to call the undertaker, I saw a little paw flicker in the tall grass. And then came whiskers, a smirk, and a sarcastic trot past me into the house. I stood stunned.

I thought of asking her what happened, and fleshing out the power of needless fear, but she was in no mood for light chatter.

David R. Denny

The Roadster

The chrome engine rose
like a molten pyramid
out of a custom blue lagoon.

The top was down
and she sat beside me at a traffic light
preening.

Her silver hoop earrings gave her status.
I gave her a bucket seat
on a highway stage.

She took the lead part without prodding
nodding to the gawkers in the rusted heap
smoking and growling next to us.

She wore a short brim paper fedora
natural tone
with a broad black band
as wide as the Nile
tucked tight around the base.

Like a matinee idol on a red carpet,
she blew kisses to her fans
who pulled up,
horses wheezing and coughing.

I gave the roadster a little drink
shoving high octane bourbon down its gullet
and making the eight angry pistons jump and dance.

She liked that.  
Oh yea.
She liked that!

So I repeated the bar scene by
jamming another round of spirits down
my stallion’s throat pumping the pedal
with a lover’s vigor.

She pecked at my cheek
leaving red tire marks steaming.

The light turned green.

I wrapped a hot arm around her shoulder
and put her hand on the walnut shifter.

The white wall Hoosiers
torched the asphalt spitting up gravel
with an attitude
while she torched my soul in
the Roadster.

David R. Denny  (for Alice)

Roadster2

Tweet

It was an early morning tweet.

Its impact was immediate. The three short syllables were barbed and struck deep into my psyche.

There was a melody to them,
the notes dripping with venom.

The tweet came again and again
like a revolver dropped on cold concrete spitting bullets.

I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.

I searched the treetops behind my house, but I couldn’t see him.
The dew-speckled leaves of this sunrise morning hid him.

I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.

The words bore a foreign accent, slurred but purposeful.

I subpoenaed him, but he did not comply.
I merely wanted to ask the obvious. Why?
Why do hate me? You don’t know me.

The wren, however, was polite. She sang me a lullaby
as I slipped away to the beckoning garden.

The dark tweet faded as the morning unfolded.
A doe nibbled a low branch by the creek.

I smiled again.

David R. Denny
Visions501@gmail.com

Tweet

 

Brood

The husband wasn’t friendly, but I understood. I had startled him, and he had a lot on his mind.

All ten of his kids were in the road.

The mother was doing her best to shoo them to the curb, but it was taking time.

My instinct was to chastise. Good parents don’t let kids roam around in the streets. But I was a kid once, and streets have a way of summoning.

I slowed down and kept off the horn. Both parents were already flustered. Ten little kids. It seemed like a mini schoolhouse.

I rolled my window down thinking I could offer some guidance—they seemed lost their eyes darting here and there searching, panicking.

They didn’t trust me.

I felt the cruelty of isolation at that moment. They were alone, wanderers in the wilderness. All they had was each other.

But a struggling family that stays together is a powerful force in a world of evil.

I drove on feeling somehow confident. They had each other.

There is no greater love.

David R. Denny
Visions501@gmail.com

Brood

Vanity

She was pretty. I’ll be the first to say it.

Her mascara was a bit heavy for such a delicate face, but I’m not criticizing. I think it’s a matter of taste.

Her lips were prominent. They made a provocative statement suggesting inner strength and independence. I think the thick watermelon lipstick was overdone, but when I stepped back and took it all in–saw the whole person–she was impressive.

But why the vanity?

Every day for a week I watched her staring into a small mirror. She posed with such gusto, swiveling her head at odd angles as if she were preparing for an essential role in a Hollywood blockbuster. Of course, she’s not the first to preen before a mirror. Tutankhamun’s 3000-year-old personal hand mirror made of polished metal with a golden handle tells us otherwise.

But why the vanity?

I decided to approach her discreetly and offer a little counsel. I wanted to tell her she was beautiful but not to confuse beauty with virtue. I wanted to warn of time’s inevitable weight and the wrinkles that would one day crowd the mirror. But alas she would not allow it. For whenever she caught my shadow drawing near, she flitted away showing little interest in temperance.

I decided to accept her as she was. After all, who am I to make judgments? Now, whenever I see her from my porch clapping her feathered hands with glee at her image in my car mirror, I smile and turn to the swallows dipping and diving above the lawn.

They don’t show any interest in mirrors.

David R. Denny  PhD
Observations
www.BlaktiePress.com

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