Once: pecking
on a flagstone
sidewalk. Once:
preening on
a telephone wire
and once: a day-
time meteor, or,
rather, meteorite,
crashing into
an astonished tree,
its orange flash
so quickly out
of sight, I stop
my car and scan
the flustered leaves
for his trademark
face-paint, polka-dot
breast, the thick,
black collar-necklace
that, in ancient
Egypt, would signify
divinity or caste.
No doubt, he’s
a beauty when
he’s still, but
the light—I found
a feather once:
an orange shaft
fringed by a black
oak leaf trimmed
in white—that
orange light
transfiguring
the air, that
only shines when
he’s in flight.

       —Jacqueline Osherow

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 39 Number 10, on page 24
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