Not Playing but Guarding: Poetry by Marilyn Hung

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I am drawn to the kitchen window by the blue-jay’s cry.
The neighbor’s marmalade cat sits on the fence,
Under the orange tree.
He slinks along the rail, towards the fence-post,
Where a blue jay sits, still as stone.

Cat pounces; his paws close on empty air.
Blue Jay circles; in the orange tree
Another bird calls.
Cat turns, slinks back towards the tree.
First Bird lands, back on his perch,
Calls to Cat. Cat turns,
Four paces, then Tree Bird calls.
Cat turns again. Three paces.
First Bird calls. Turn again.
Call and response;
Their mocking cries say
“A grand game this, we
Can keep it up all day. You?”
I rap on the window.
Cat disappears.

I open my door next morning.
A tiny ball of blue down
Perched on pterodactyl legs
Looks up at me from bead black eyes.
A chick, flown too soon from the nest.
I stoop to lift it back to the safety of the tree.
With a cry, two blue winged avengers
Swoop down, land, one each side the chick.
Together, they hop to the wood pile
Under the orange tree,
Relic of a long-forgotten task.
They climb the pile, hop by hop,
Plank by plank, until
The chick, feeling the air beneath its wings,
Flies up to the lowest branch,
Clings with giant feet,
Then, half hopping, half flying,
Disappears
Into the welcoming dark of the canopy.

The parent birds take up their posts,
One on the fence, one in the tree,
And wait.
Not playing, guarding.
Marilyn Hung

Marilyn retired to Lake County in 2016, to pursue her interests in writing, painting, gardening, baking, and all kinds of fiber crafts. She lived in the SF Bay area for thirty years, where she raised her two children, and worked as a school librarian, tutor for English Language Learners, Health Food Store Clerk, and Fiber-Crafts teacher. Before moving to California, she lived in England and Germany, and traveled throughout Europe, including Eastern Europe during the Communist era. She believes in the power of Nature to heal Body, Mind, and Spirit, and to remind us that we are all Children of the Creator.

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