The Last Southwestern Willow Flycatcher
Father shows the way to Rio Grande patch of streams.
As a couple, they returned building a nest of dreams.
Clyde’s a brown flycatcher born in the spring.
“Rritz bew,” Clyde chants flicking his tail
wandering from the cupped nest to sing.
The sortilege vibrations of the river fail.
A mud headed cowbird snatches his siblings.
In a salt cedar, he summons his mother, “pip pip pip.”
She responds, “Pip Pip Pip.”
“When willows disappear, the wind tips.”
“Days grow short, prepare for a southern trip.”
“Let’s stay here for the winter and wait.”
“No, the snow would certain our fate.”
“You might be the last brown peewee.”
“Another will fall in love, it is easy-”
Clyde scratches his buff back in fear.
“No son, fly south and find your own mate.”
“A vermilion coated crooner will appear-”
Clyde lets go clinging to his branch state.
He dives for a mosquito above the clear.
“Just plain sooty flycatcher.” She says too late.
At sunrise Clyde sings to his Mother, “pip pip pip.”
There is no response, no familiar sail.
“Dear, you may be the last brown tip.”
Her wisdom never seems to fail.
On a glass wall is an image of father’s tail.
Clyde’s reflection flicks feathers for a meal.
The evening’s chill looms a lonely feel.
He calls again, “pip pip pip.”
No sound in the thicket join his karaoke solos
Lift makes him brave across favorable echoes
Across Chihuahua following a night star
polarized illuminated rivers that are far.
Resting under a deciduous thicket now bare,
a House Finch named Rosy shoos him with a scare,
“You rude uninvited unexpected un-excellent song…”
Rosy pokes him with her bill,
“get out get out before some monster comes along…”
“May I rest a minute? I am not begging for you to share.”
“Better not, better go, better you will…”
Rosy brushes Clyde out of her winter stay with mace.
Clyde passes rocky ledges, finding a sheltered place.
Far riparian woodland air on the Clyde’s cape of his feathers
Moon touches him with a crescent of turmeric upon his face.
In morning, without a mark, he sneezes flying through desert dusts.
Eves are lonely, but there are bugs to hawk near the aqueduct.
Days pass, time to return to the lake, boulders, and river he trusts.
The trip north is faster, he follows in the row behind a flock of geese.
Ignore the rare flycatcher, he makes it home to reconstruct.
When landmarks show the Kern River, Clyde knows he is at peace.
There his true love sits in golden cedar called a pest,
Yellow honeysuckle dust, she has upon her throat a crest.
Courtship rubs their beaks to form the shape of a heart.
Magic flies safely in the afternoon they never part.
They build a cup nest in a wild rose.
Taking turns with the eggs, no robber baron shows.
Stolen marked as tattoos burned on their faces
Fever ghost without a glass of water graces
A wet suit airing in the rain, flowing sand bars.
Don’t dump here, it flows to the stars.
The last southwestern willow flycatcher lives on a glass wall.
Mournful he waits for a mosquito singing his final call.
The memory of cottonwoods on the Rio Grande
I am performing this work in progress today at the SW Chula Vista Library Hispanic Literacy Festival today at 1:30 open to the public, free, please arrive early to practice with bird whistles or wind instruments that I will supply. Children, teens, adults all welcome for the fun. This poem is about a bird who is endangered only 80 remain. In 2008 he decided to grace my backyard in southern Orange County (not an area they were known to exist) this set in motion a series of connected events. Bird watchers came to stay in my yard, I learned he has no mate and the only place these birds nest are known to live is where my children's ancestors first settled in California near Kernville. My children are 9th generation Californian's and the Kern River Preserve in on land that their first Great- great Grandfather came as a trapper then was given the land from the King of Spain which he passed down originally as a cattle then dairy farm. The farm is gone and so are the thousands of this little songbird. This is a work in progress performed live today. A video game of this bird is in progress. Thank You,
Caroline Gerardo ( Barbeau )