Where is birdsong a soothing summer sound?
Not in our garden.
The pure white cockatoos, with their egg-yolk
crests, circle around
the treetops shouting rather than calling,
in tones like that of metal grating on metal, while smoke
coils into the air. Perhaps one might pardon
such a cry from someone falling
down a cliff or off a building; but not
from a white-winged bird.
At the same time, there are also black-winged
crows giving out what
could be taken for an expletive
four letters long; a flock of them are harassing a ringed-
tail possum that has, in the daylight, wandered
from its nest onto a power cable – they dive
on the helpless marsupial and peck
fiercely at its head,
until it seems their victim must soon fall
off and break its neck.
In their murderous intent, these black, hoarse-
voiced attackers seem to the watcher to represent all
that is evil in nature, their claws blood-red
as criminal proof. Fate will take its course,
and death will follow. Yet the cockatoos,
it seems, have other
ideas. Filling the air with their rust
textured cry, in twos
and threes, they swoop down and come to the defence
of the possum, chasing the crows away; and thus one’s trust
in the universe might be restored. Order
returns to the treetops, and a sense
of calm. The cockatoos perch on the wire
like a troop of guards,
and wait for the dazed ringtail to gather
itself, and retire
to the bundle of leaves where it should sleep
until nightfall. The villains have been defeated. Other
sounds replace the cursing of those birds,
lawnmowers and chainsaws and the deep
echoing boom of traffic over the hill.
slam doors and drop schoolbags. Everyday
events come to fill
each yard along the street, where humans have
no reason to notice a struggle underway
between black and white. Leaf mounds are burning.
The possum blinks. It is still alive.