Adagio with wings

The sound ice cubes make falling
to the floor of the catch tray

frightens the birds. They nudge the doors
of their wire cages open and fly

straight to the hills, though it is well known
there are nights when hunters lie in wait

with bonfires and their hundred feet of netting.
But the city makes them jittery: steam rises

in sad columns from factory sweatshops,
lost shoes dangle by their laces from electric

wires; window after window adorned
with mannequins’ molded faces, days

stampeding into each other. Some birds
wear cowls around their faces. Some

have tufted beards. In the lowland markets,
it is possible to find the smallest of them

trapped in woven rush baskets,
their plumage unnatural in forced neon.

Those are some of the saddest ones. They die
after a few days, all memory of song erased.

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