Bird Diary

It’s true, shiny buildings
attract sulphur-crested cockatoos, they
screech and flap their wings,

furies looking for a perch
in the white city.
Plum blossoms hold rain

drops, two chatting rosellas
peer in my window.
9 September: hear ‘rifle crack’

spot Spring’s first gang-gang
on a tree branch, a grey, haunted cockatoo.
Keeping a bird diary’s downside:

birdless days no journal entries,
though there’s always
the hungry warble song

somewhere in the neighbourhood—
an insolence of currawongs.
Thursday, four-thirty p.m.: Wattlebirds

growl like possums and
the arrival of half a dozen galahs,
brings a memory of communing

with lorikeets in Sydney
all green chirp and chatter. Friday morning,
I eyeball a king parrot who eyeballs me,

one eye stares an axis the bird hops around.
A nearby forest was chopped down
flattened into a freeway, many birds

migrated to our street.
Like the choughs. Always fussing,
the cranky choughs, their red eyes

gleam in their shiny black crows’
heads, my presence makes them crankier.
The callistemon on the nature strip

will have to do them for a home.
These days, birds who arrive
tend to stay. Indian mynahs, rosellas

and galahs join the philosopher birds
shuffling in squares around the school oval.
(Remember when a hundred ibises dropped in!)

Late summer evenings, as the old willows
swaying by the stormwater canal turn
to silhouettes, every third branch holds a sulphur-

crested cockatoo. They squawk and mimic the day’s
shouting, trucks and cars, the white city roars;
except Sundays when madness sits indoors

then cockatoos join the other birds’ conversation
and they chat and sing old whistle, squawk,
laughter, quiet talk, and silence. Early

Monday morning, the baby’s cries
bring king parrots (they love his song
and cooing which is like rain just beginning).

Outside the window eight king parrots
forage the Japanese cedar’s branches. Eight king
parrots in a tree: such sweet numerology!

© S. K. Kelen, 2009