What if there were no birds on earth,
no waterbirds or cranes, no cardinals
nor the robins flighty in the trees
and no creamy seagulls or pelicans
squawking at the beach, no eagles screaming,
no fish hawks diving, no fowls or owls
hooting and looting mice in the woods,
and no mosquitoes or butterflies to boot.
Not even bantam roosters in Wallace Steven’s
old Key west. Why…the idea of flight and flying animals
and insects would be nothing more than
the crazed idea of a science fiction writer! But
one bright, compelling day, archaeologists working
deep in Grand or Glen Canyon or under a Wal-Mart
parking lot, discover fossils of a winged animal
covered with a gossamer-something they decide
to call, “feathers?”
While realizing that the earth was more ancient than
mideast religions ever dreamed, others
paused to ask: What should we call them?
Those winged creatures that once circled earth,
riding a magic carpet, descendants of dinosaurs,
they say; what a glorious world it must have been
in those days of sepia when angels sailed.
We must create a noun to call them,
okay call them ‘birds.”
But we also need a verb.