Friday, February 14, 2014

A Murmuration of Starlings (Sonnets #163 and #164)


Sixty thousand draw arabesques in formation.
Are they not hive-minded (doesn't each one
Each day turn the murmuration its way
Just once?), and a miracle of concentration?

They gather in the late autumn afternoon sun,
Purpose hidden behind each cascading array.
It's said their wings never come closer than seven
Inches, even with the most abrupt turn or dive,
Or clustering darkness that their rising leavens.

Perhaps they simply close their eyes and trust
To surrounding air sounds to stay alive.
With every change in direction they thrust
Forward, or drop, or turn, or rise, or stall --
Not one will falter, wing awry, or fall.


Some scientists hypothesize
That a starling murmuration
Aggregates them to synchronize
And make one mind from a nation.

Like oscillating overtones
Of a guitar string's harmonic,
Each bird emits a low sonic
Signal to each bird's hollow bones.

Or, perhaps, their wings carve the air
Into symbols they all can read,
Like instructions, that tell them where
They'll soon find berry, grub, or seed.

Or do they so adorn the sky,
Just to do it, no reason why?


Here's a video of a stunning example of a murmuration of starlings.

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