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Birds [Jan. 27th, 2019|11:12 pm]
There was a mockingbird singing this afternoon, and though I never got a glimpse of it I think it was in the bush that grows in one corner of my small back yard and stretches along the top of the tall wooden fence separating the yard from the bike trail that runs behind the apartment. There were always mockingbirds in the yards of the houses I lived in in Southern California, but the entire time I was in Paradise I don't recall eve hearing a single one. There were blue jays and crows in abundance, and many smaller birds, plus the delightful acorn woodpeckers and, for the last couple of years, a few mourning doves, but never a mockingbird. Hearing one today was delightful, and it almost felt like I was back in Los Angeles for a while.

But had I been in Los Angeles I would probably have gone somewhere. In Chico there was nowhere special to go, so I just walked over to the shopping center to pick up a six pack of Sierra Nevada porter at Trader Joe's, before I run out. On the way I stopped a the Goodwill store on the off chance that they might have a copy of one of the two Harry Potter books I don't have yet, and indeed they had a paperback copy of the first volume, and it was not in terrible condition, so I bought it. The library is growing.

Tomorrow being a weekday I should probably start thinking about the things I ought to be doing, like finding a chiropractor, finishing my business at the bank, looking for some furniture, etcetera. All the tedious things, in other words, that are not like standing in the back yard listening to mockingbirds by day and hearing the geese and trumpeter swans fly over by night. But tonight, after I post this entry, I'm going to go read for a couple of hours. Though I'd bet it will turn out to be more than a couple.

Sunday Verse


by Richard Wilbur

              I. 1933
    (North Caldwell, New Jersey)

What were we playing? Was it prisoner's base?
I ran with whacking keds
Down the cart road past Rickard's place,
And where it dropped beside the tractor-sheds

Leapt out into the air above a blurred 
Terrain, through jolted light,
Took two hard lopes, and at the third
Spanked off a hummock-side exactly right,

And made the turn, and with delighted strain
Sprinted across the flat
By the bull-pen, and up the lane.
Thinking of happiness, I think of that.
          II. PATRIOT'S DAY
      (Wellesley, Massachusetts)

Restless that noble day, appeased by soft
Drinks and tobacco, littering the grass
While the flag snapped and brightened far aloft,
We waited for the marathon to pass.

We fathers and our little sons, let out
Of school and office to be put to shame.
Now from the street-side someone raised a shout,
And into view the first small runners came.

Dark in the glare, they seemed to thresh in place
Like preening flies upon a windowsill,
Yet gained and grew, and at a cruel pace
Swept by us on their way to Heartbreak Hill--

Legs driving, fists at port, clenched faces, men
And, in amongst them, stamping on the sun,
Our champion, Kelley, who would win again,
Rocked in his will, at rest within his run.

      (Cummington, Massachusetts)

I jog up out of the woods
To the crown of the road, and slow to a swagger there,
The wind harsh and cool to my throat,
A good ache in my rib-cage.

Loud burden of streams at run-off,
And the sun's rocket frazzled in blown tree-heads:
Still I am part of that great going,
Though I stroll now, and am watchful.

Where the road turns and debouches,
The land sinks westward into exhausted pasture.
From fields which yield to aspen now
And pine at last will shadow,

Boy-shouts reach me, and barking.
What is the thing which men will not surrender?
It is what they have never had, I think,
Or missed in its true season,

So that their thoughts turn in 
At the same roadhouse nightly, the same cloister,
The wild mouth of the same brave river
Never now to be charted.

You, whoever you are,
If you want to walk with me you must step lively.
I run, too, when the mood offers, 
Though the god of that has left me.

But why in the hell spoil it?
I make a clean gift of my young running
To the two boys who break into view,
Hurdling the rocks and racing,

Their dog dodging before them
This way and that, his yaps flushing a pheasant
Who lifts from the blustery grass
Flying full tilt already.