weekend-readsWild Birds Unlimited

Lucia Perillo

Because the old feeder feeds nothing
but squirrels, who are crafty and have learned
how to hang so it swings sideways until
gravity takes the seed—I bumble down

to this store of bird knick-knacks and
lensware for the geeks, and while
the clerk is ringing up my Mini
Bandit Buster ($29.95), spring-loaded

to close the seed-holes when a heavy animal alights,
I read a pamphlet about bird-feeding, which I had not thought
was complicated, but turns out
is. Yes I bought the costly mixture,

not the cheap stuff, full of milo,
which the birds kick to the ground, where it becomes
an aggregate of shit and chaff.
But I’d not known you must sweep it up

so as not to spread the pathogens, and space
your feeders far apart and dump
the seed each week and clean the feeder tube with bleach.
And you should white-wash the windows of your home

so the birds won’t crash—you’ll live in twilight
but your conscience will be clear. Otherwise
it’s best not to feed the birds
at all: your help will only kill them, has killed them,

I killed them says Wild Birds Unlimited—thanks,
now let me tell you that your wind chimes
turn this place into a gong-tormented sea.
Outside, it’s just another shop in the strip mall;

used to be that this place was a grove
of cedars where I knelt in the purplebrown duff
while something holy landed like a lunar rover
on my shoulder. But listen

to what sings in the grove’s bright stead—
computer chips provide what you would hear here
if they weren’t—mechanical birds
on plastic boughs, always flowering.

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