I check the den window a few times each day
To make certain the world is still out there.
One day a ruby-crowned kinglet, a micro-bird
Not much bigger than my thumb,
Hovered like a motorized crucifix
Right in front of my face.
His crown, hidden when the bird is calm,
Stood straight up, a scarlet mohawk,
An emblem of his anger as serious as opera.
Again and again he charged my face.
It took a while to gather that his quarrel wasn’t with me:
He was pecking at his own ghost in the glass.
I taped newspapers over the window,
And he retreated to the plum tree.
The next morning I took the papers down,
But he came back in full fury,
So the papers hung again for three days
Until he vanished to another challenge.
I too have often been my own worst enemy;
No wonder his hatred seemed almost human
On Turning 79
When I was a boy,
I woke to the flute song—
A single tone, three notes,
Coo coo coo—of the mourning dove.
Far from mournful, it launched me
Into morning with a small beauty,
A good way to set a tone.
Today, the same awakening,
Despite some deteriorations
In the house that is my body.
An even tinier song,
Yet it houses on one foundation
All of my desires.