“They’re just birds” is the casual cast-off

what can a bird feel?

Their brains are so much smaller than ours

yet they can recognize themselves in silvered mirrors

and groom themselves with their reflective assistance

like teenagers readying for prom

puffed up feather headdresses high as kites.

That’s something.

When a magpie dies, other magpies come

and dance around the body

they nudge it

touch it

call out to it

call out to the neighborhood of magpies

the fraternal nation of magpies

for miles around

and they all come together to sing a song of mourning.

They sing in a language we do not know

with words that signify a paean and hosanna

offering this feathered soul up to God

and asking for paradise to be blue skied and bountiful.

They then all at once – fly away.