It wasn’t a singing I heard,
nothing close to celebration. The life luster,
a quick serve, was there, and then night dust lost it.
I had been smiling.
Now all ears were up for listening
this a.m. at 2:32 on the west side of the house,
not on the east, where the shade falls when the sun gets hot.
By the way, night is no simple city.
It was a shriek of small, a bird, I heard tender and sweet,
a living being, a warm I could at once scoop up, embrace,
not the drunks you hear screaming in the street.
A clamor cry caught in one lone throat, stapled
to a depth of suffering I cannot fathom, its small frame
without a stanchion stick to stand on.
I join the chorus.
Every window has an opening and a closing. I clasp
my hands, think of running to rescue. But how?
I weave I waver. Something outside dies.
In the harmony of nature where is the shelter?
A squirrel’s nest high up in the tree isn’t enough.
The utter struggle, some night owl
on the prowl, thankful to receive a meal.
Anything is possible in the city where trust and fear
must have something in common. No one is smiling tonight.
Hungry stands with a bloody platter outside my window.
I’d never heard that cry. Oh sad pain. Maybe once
before. A midnight battle the cats lost,
oh the screeching.
Brenda Gaba is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared in The Texas Observer, Amarillo Bay, and a book of poems, Pete’s Book and the Friends of Pete. She lives in Dallas with her husband and dogs, Newton and Sawyer. She visits her two sons who live in New York City and London as often as possible.