Northwords Now

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Cheating By Nature

by Jay Wilson

Don’t you go wagging your finger at me,
chucking accusations left right and centre.
Homewrecker. Shirker. Defective sense
of motherbird. To say I lack maternal
instinct affronts me. It’s not my fault
airmiles to Africa and back take their toll,
odds always stacked against us. Twenty fledglings
in place of four, or even five, are my reasons to fly.

Don’t you go saying it’s easy for me to turn
my back, leave my bairns to colonise
their hosts’ nests. Eight seconds flat is all it takes
to swoop in, chuck out eggs
excess to requirement. My chicks are not helpless
from birth. Mine have tools to survive.
In built. Instinct. In their genes. It isn’t personal,
and anyhow, Crossbills can fairly fight.

Don’t you go forgetting that as April turns to May
my cuu-cuu calling spins your head towards
summer’s warmer days. What’s that name you have for me.
Harbinger, isn’t that right. Herald of spring
when your winter weary smile spreads wide
as the horizon.

Don’t you tell me, is all I’m saying,
that if you, like me, were under threat, you wouldn’t
just lie down and die.

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