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...bird on a wire...



used to see them everywhere
black plumage blood-encrusted
- their bodies limp/like all dead things -

and strung up on wire...the barbed-wire fences that run roadside
through outback Australia.

Can’t say when I first saw them
...I was too young - the brain only half-formed...
and memory far too fugitive for what we fondly imagine as fixity

But I know what time it was that I can recall....

I was seven - and on the greatest adventure of a lifetime.
The big trip, it was, right around Australia
half on corrugations & bull-dust so fine
it’d seep into your skin

And, everywhere we went
- wherever there were fences (the stock themselves rarely visible) -
there were these great black birds...strung up on the wire.

Roadkill was common
...yet more evidence of the native naiviety...
but, this was different

Wedge-tailed eagles were the great raptors of the nation,
both scavengers & hunters, like our ancestors,
and we saw hundreds upon our journey

Almost all dead...

Some were roadkill themselves,
slain by the next car as they feasted upon previous victims....
But most were shot for trespass, as if the mere granting of leasehold implied
the right to execute the skys

In some places,
where such things were avidly pursued,
a dozen or more of their limp bodies might be seen...mummifying
in the dry air, like furies slain, having lost their mandate....

Later travels were less haunted,
and most today have never seen such.
But I still remember the great black birds of my youth, strung up by the
dozens...and hanging - on the wire...


 john henry calvinist