For weeks we watched for hatchlings to come
of three smug eggs tucked into a nest,
the nest tucked into the crook
of a neighbor’s honeysuckle. Time nodded,
was nodding—the shred of living, how offhand
the wind teeters toward erosion. Hard at work,
on guard in two backyards, the robins mothered
and fathered their territory daily. And beyond,
our block’s alley stretched aimless as fields,
where watching happens by accident,
by nature. They’d squawk on a streetlamp,
a cedar fence, our back stoop, warning off
the tabby, my two young sons, everyone
stuck at home. I lost my mind with watching
and thought it grief or egotism, the bruise
of yesterday, not least the sky
unraveling another season. It was easy
to mistake the bared skeletal pinions
as lawn clippings, old leaves. That circle
in the grass, a massacre of feathers. That
terrible cat. It was easy to lose my mind.
One neighbor said, let’s not tell the children,
why know the world as always fated
toward remnant. Another said, go,
take the nest, set it under glass, and make it a lesson.
Instead, I watched our habits pass, the honeysuckle
fade from sickly sweet to nothing but heat.
Call it science. It’s summer again, and then
everything’s remnant. What did we do those days,
stuck at home, my sons might some day ask. We lived
or tolerated living. We looked away from death.