I am trying to learn from other species,
the flora and fauna around me


I do not speak their languages,

at least not as shared letters
arranged into sounds, my language, English.

There is no way of knowing

if my lessons are true,
tested, over and over, with enough time,

however, I am not finished.

I am still observing,

present, continuous.

There is the hillside.

In April, when no one was mowing, there was clover
and bees- digger bees, ground-nesting, solitary bees,
and bumbles- Eastern, Brown-belted, Northern
pollinating from purple bud to bud.

I squatted close
enough to hear them hum, hum.
I closed my eyes,
comforted by the sound.

In May, the landlord had the grass cut
every week. The clover grew back,
again and again. The rabbits came, daybreak, twilight.
I watched them chewing the clover tops.

Chipmunks scurried through the grass, along the rock wall,
pipping, squeaking, diving into their tunnels.
Squirrels darted and rolled on the hill,
scampered into the trees
claws clicking and scratching the bark.

Maples budded into green leaves,
leaves waving, like hands.
I waved back.

Sparrows and robins and jays and cardinals and woodpeckers
and birds I did not know, yellow birds with black masks
tiny gray birds with heads shaped like cardinals
I learned their names, warbler and titmouse,
all of them sang loud
enough to wake us up
every morning in April and May.

In June, July and August, summer mornings at daybreak,
my love and I sipped coffee outside
as close to the little woods as possible.

We looked up to see bats, wobbling
swooping to eat insects

a great blue heron, flying in a straight line

hummingbirds flitting
from the cherry tree into the cedar,
and once, as we were talking about courage,
hovering close, right in front of us

hawks circling, circling against the blue sky
keening from the highest branch of the maple,
the sound of the hawk, comforting.

We sat still and a tom cat, a dark grey tabby,
crouched across the hill side, wary of us.

We sat still, holding our breath
for the fox who emerged from the woods,
sniffed the neighbors’ wood pile,
flicked her tail and returned to the woods
her paws making no sound at all.

There is some quiet in this village,
if you wake up before most of the humans,
if you are still