May Swenson





The Willets

One stood still, looking stupid.  The other, 
beak open, streaming a thin sound,
held wings out, took sideways steps, 
stamping the salt marsh.  It looked threatening.
The other still stood wooden, a decoy.

He stamp-danced closer, his wings arose,
their hinges straightened,
from the wedge-wide beak the thin sound
streaming agony-high---
in fear she wouldn't stand?  She stood.

Her back to him pretended---
was it welcome, or only dazed 
admission of their fate?
Lifting, he streamed a warning
from his beak, and lit

upon her, trod upon her
back, both careful feet.
The wings held off his weight.
His tail pressed down, slipped off.  She 
animated. And both went back to fishing.


spoken =Tansy Mattingly