Who made the birds in all of their variegated beauty?
Their flashes of scarlet dabbed on a jet black wing?
Their perfectly aerodynamic feathers waiting
to catch a breath of wind
and soar through nothing but air, pass nothing
but the shimmering leaves
at the very tops of the
And who gave man mind to name them?
As an exercise in simple gratitude
I list my favorite names for groups of birds:
a pitying of turtle doves,
a murmuration of starlings,
a spring of teal,
a watch of nightingales,
a host of sparrows,
a charm of finches,
a muster of storks,
a siege of herons,
a wedge of swans,
an ostentation of peacocks,
an exaltation of larks.
A sliver of God’s wild handiwork
simply in the vast engineering of eye and beak, feather, wing
of just a few bird species.
Oh–joy and wonder,
May surround them as they glide;
May plunge them in a downdraft on a hazy September morning.
May perch them high in some
tree house hidden against
the rough and cool brown bark.
Oh loving God–you who thought of the red-winged blackbird
to flit through the reeds and take our breath away
–I cannot comprehend you.