Banderillas

In the front yard, wet
with a weekend’s worth of rain,
two drakes have come to tussle
for the favor of a hen
who’s plunked herself beneath
the hydrangea. They circle round
each other, they stab and bite, aiming
for the nape where it’s most darkly
open, that curve shaped like the back-
side of a question, like the handle
of something one might take hold of
and hook as a trophy on the wall.
The hen seems indifferent
even when the feathers fly,
even after the one green-headed
drake runs the other off the yard
and onto where the sidewalk drops
to the edge of the road, then
comes back as if to tender
officially his credentials.
But she doesn’t sit in one place
either— moving through the grass
as if she’s not all that into such
rituals, as if the musk of sex
hasn’t stained every pennant
they’ve brushed against by now.
Nothing, at least as we can see,
gets consummated, though the very
air ripples with signals given off
by every lure: tipped spears
of lavender, white veils
of scent from overhead as tight
skirts of magnolias loosen.

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