How could I know?
that the cry of a bird
was the cry of a young bird that cried for its mother?
How could I know
that the cry of a young bird
crying for its mother –
at first so strong
so confident of her response –
was growing weaker by the day, then by the hour
was growing hollower as the time passed
as the heat tsunami
riding high on the back of the dry desert wind
came and swept
and that the trees were not providing
as they had always done
that the trees were drawing in on themselves
shrinking away from the bird for their own survival?
How could I hear the cry of life shrinking in the young bird
above the cries of all other birds
above the wind
above the barks of the dogs –
our own and others’ –
above the pittery patter of leaves,
the sounds of dryness
etching into the soundscape?
How could I hear this?
How could it pierce me
and how could I know
that I could do nothing,
nothing to prevent, to preclude?
For I am not the bird’s mother
nor are the trees
nor is the wind
nor is the heat
nor is the dry lick of osmosis
The bird’s mother lies dead somewhere.
The young bird, with its last energy,
abandons the treacherous trees
seeks the cool moistness of my manufactured house
rests its breast to cool itself on fire-formed tiles
under the heavens of its eaves
seeking another mother
that still heard its cry –
now etched as a silence in the soundscape –
How could it know?