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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 2, June 2019

Peter Newton
Winchendon, Massachusetts, USA

Adjustment Period

the camera zooms in on a speckled egg that of the reed warbler at least that’s what the reed warbler mother thinks but after panning right across the marsh a tricky thing is revealed Sir David Attenborough’s voice introduces a cuckoo bird but this cuckoo bird is homeless going through life never having to build a nest why build a nest it must have asked itself somewhere along the evolutionary line when the world is full of perfectly usable nests tended by perfectly attentive mothers so the cuckoo waits

Irish eyes…the song she has become

for the unwitting reed warbler to leave its nest and quickly plucks one of her speckled eggs out and deposits its own speckled egg in no one the wiser this forced adoption this willing abandonment this crime of opportunity no matter the perpetrator like all counterfeiters must keep ahead of the suspicious eye

my mother’s succulents her healthy neglect

in this case the reed warbler has added a little smear here a splotch there an eggshell watermark if you will to thwart the cuckoo’s imposter eggs and countless generations of reed warbler mothers will be duped distracted by the mimicry but a mother is a mother is a mother after all turning to a long shot back across the marsh the slow wheels of justice Sir David Attenborough says as if pondering some marvelous sorrow.

her signature half-smile coming to terms



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