Ornithography

(The legendary Cang Jie was said to have invented writing after observing the tracks of birds.)

A light snow last night,

and now the earth falls open to a fresh page.

A high wind is breaking up the clouds.
Children wait for the yellow bus in a huddle,

and under the feeder, some birds
are busy writing short stories,

poems, and letters to their mothers.
A crow is working on an editorial.

That chickadee is etching a list,
and a robin walks back and forth

composing the opening to her autobiography.
All so prolific this morning,

these expressive little creatures,
and each with an alphabet of only two letters.

A far cry from me watching
in silence behind a window wondering

what just frightened them into flight —
a dog’s bark, a hawk overhead?

or had they simply finished
saying whatever it was they had to say?

by Billy Collins

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