Te tu e hu! Te tu e hu!
—Maori Song

This bird does not refer to you,
not understood but overheard.
Watchful behind its repertoire,
it sings from kotukutuku
of flow and friction, undeterred
by those who listen from afar
or stand beneath the shedding tree.
Tui does not derive from tu
but occupies the echoed song
of ko-ka-ko and pī-pi-pi,
each bird a name, each name a tune
to whistle as you walk along
preoccupied with the rise and fall
of each reflexive, raucous call.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 39 Number 2, on page 33
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