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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 4, December 2012


Eddee Daniel
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, U.S.A.


I nudge the bassinet; my wife shoos me outside.

The red-winged blackbird flits away. Too late. She signals the whereabouts of her nest. I approach cautiously. I don’t want to disturb the brittle brown cattails that support the bundled twigs. The mother bird chirps insistently from the top of the nearest alder, trying to draw my attention. The nest is dark, shaded by the tips of the cattails, which shield it like steepled fingers.

I peer inside. The mother falls silent.

All I can make out is a jumbled pile of featherless sacs. Stretched taut over clearly visible internal organs are thin, translucent membranes of skin. I fear they must burst any second. The tightly massed brood pulses gently like a single organism, like a beating heart.

Suddenly a tiny head pops up. Its sharp triangular beak opens wider than the head itself, revealing a ribbed throat and disarmingly passive trust.

The mother bird, understanding only the merciless laws of nature, will return expecting to find the violated nest empty, the hatchlings eaten. But today I am not a predator. I step away with care.

muddy boots
by the door



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