Outside the window, seeds laid on the ledge, A sick dove staggered, pecked, staggered again, And while I watched, it toppled off the edge And lay struggling, then feebly pecked again. I took some water in a small can lid and set it by its unprotesting bill, I built a barrier so it was hid From predators seeking an easy kill. Night came and dawn, and with the morning light I saw the vanity of what I’d done; The dove was there, eyes rigor mortis tight, Flecked feathers golden in the morning sun. I took some comfort in an ancient word, “God knows when sparrows fall,” or any bird.
Concept of green, shape of a crystal bird, Color and form locked in the synapses Even neuritic plaque cannot destroy— Although we cannot know with certainty. But by the evidence there must exist A sense of order, of a certain kind, And things appear where they have never been, In neat arrangements of a different kind. Among the lambent eggs and crystal birds, Given as gifts to a beloved one, I find green leaves torn from a growing plant, Arranged in shape, a graceful trinity: O, I am glad I did not say a word, Perhaps she thought green leaves would feed the bird.
Even in Maine’s rain and fog I catch them, often in pairs, or waiting, patient, perched on a scarcely bending twig of our aged forsythia, then working the window box petunias till the coast seems clear, while I hover, motionless, on the shadowed porch, hungry for still another glimpse of ruby throat and emerald layered coat, the delicate dip of beak in cup, the tilted head, the blur of wings, that sudden flash of movement— now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t. Whatever it may be in me— some wandered/wondered child— that makes me watch and wait, this late, the daily hours to catch their, almost holy, visitations, I’m grateful for it, mindful too of one who, every once in a long while, still hovers back there just beyond, behind the nearest edge of solitude, or prayer, or even glimpses of the tiniest of birds.
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).