by Wendy Videlock

The chickadee is all about truth.
The finch is a token. The albatross
is always an omen. The kestrel is mental,
the lark is luck, the grouse is dance,
the goose is quest. The need for speed
is given the peregrine, and the dove’s
been blessed with the feminine.

The quail is word and culpability.
The crane is the dean of poetry.
The swift is keen agility,
the waxwing mere civility,
the sparrow a nod to working class

nobility. The puffin’s the brother
of humor and prayer, the starling the student
of Baudelaire. The mockingbird
is the sound of redress, the grackle the father
of excess. The flicker is rhythm,

the ostrich is earth, the bluebird a simple
symbol of mirth. The oriole
is the fresh start. The magpie is prince
of the dark arts. The swallow is warmth,
home, protection—the vulture the priest

of purification, the heron a font
of self-reflection. The swisher belongs
to the faery realm. Resourcefulness
is the cactus wren. The pheasant is sex,
the chicken is egg, the eagle is free,

the canary the bringer of ecstasy.
The martin is peace. The stork is release.
The swan is the patron of grace and discretion.
The loon is the watery voice of the moon.
The owl’s the keeper of secrets, grief,
and fresh fallen snow, and the crow

has the bones of the ancestral soul.