Wildlife Management III Poem by James Galvin

Wildlife Management III



Without the manifest necessity of a paint-laden brush, the motion
traced by the painter's hand would mimic that moth's fragile
desperation against the glass as it seeks escape into the already
painted sunset.
It drops to the sill periodically the way the painter's
hand would drop to the palette.
Then it sputters back up erratically
and zigzags to indicate the horizontal nature of sunsets.
On the
other side of the glass, free to the air, a nighthawk enacts the same
erratic striving, up and up and down and sideways then up again
and falteringly up until it drops, wings folded, suicidally
earthward.
It spreads its wings just above the ground for the life-
saving aerialist's breathtaking swoop.
Air through feathers (they
call it drumming) hums like a wind harp or tissue paper on a comb.

The nighthawk flies like that, erratic as a bat, because that's how
moths fly, and that's what nighthawks eat and what they feed their
fledglings.
Nighthawks build no nests but lay their eggs on bare
ground.
Their camouflage is so perfect you can find them only by
accident.
If you are out walking and the mother flies up, pulling
that clichéd broken-wing trick, and you mark the spot she rose
from, you can find the eggs.
If you go back after they hatch, you can look
right at them and think they aren't there—just some small chunks
of wood.
So I'm watching this nighthawk and the moth on the
glass in their painterly struggles that mirror each other as the
sunset reclines, aloof.
This is the only moth I've seen this rainless
summer.
The only nighthawk too.
So I open the window and give
them both what they want.

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