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Wildlife by Heather Treseler


by Heather Treseler

All strut and gibbering, wattles and caruncles,

tom turkeys parade at dusk, panoply

of feathers fanned, snoods

engorged and dangling over their sharpened

beaks while their heads turn from red

to white to blue in tricolor

blush, pulsing placards above their sexual taxis.

Hens, loitering in shade, graze acorns

and the occasional grub, an eye

cocked, nonplussed. They've seen this all before.

Ben Franklin thought the fowl “vain

& silly” but respectable, more

American than the thieving eagle. Hens sense

that courtship, like government, rarely

is as dainty as ballet of bowerbirds.

And of the preening toms? Who hasn't felt

the need to wear a brighter face for love

or war? At dusk, they flock

to the wooded edge of town. (And mate, quietly,

on ground.) Then, one-by-one, take running

starts, wings pumping,

and like battered 747s ascend to perch on spiky

feet, nestling along limbs longer than

their own. Small miracle, how

they vault their twenty pounds of poult in air

as after a day of too many hours:

uphill, the last set of stairs.

Galliformes, sharp-sighted by day, are night blind

prey. My predator is my dark. After love,

I, too, sleep on a second story.

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