The Scarlet Tanager

The Scarlet Tanager

Standing on the back deck, I absently looked up into

The yard; can I call the lush ever green, red and

White pines, Arborvitae, flaking bark Birches, Hem-

Locks, ferns, and now blooming Japanese Iris and

Other flowers galore a backyard? It is a myriad of nature

Domed with huge Choke Cherries, maples and then

The thirty-some goldfish in the pond refreshing themselves

Where the waterfall tumbles food from the upper pond into

Their mouths.

There on a branch of a birch is a stunning, brilliant

Red bird with a black mark on its wing.  I thought

I was in a photographer’s developing room seeing

The negative.  Is that a red-winged black bird, I’m

So accustomed to seeing?  No, it’s a Scarlet Tanager,

My wife says. Is that Scarlett O’Hara tired of the

Stress of today and thinking only about tomorrow

On the plantation as she closes the door? Am I Rhett

Butler saying,

“Personally, my dear, I don’t give a damn?”

When, in reality, I can’t believe how beautiful he

Is and how lucky I am to be seeing him. My wife

Has the bird book, page 232 in her hand and I shout

Across to the yard behind us, beyond the white pines,

The birches, over the heads of the gold-fish who go

On eating the spiral algae, which I understand is good

For us too, “Hey, we just saw a Scarlet Tanager.”

Bonnie, the neighbor

Working on her flowers, calls back, “A Scarlet Tanager?”

It was only then I thought, No, It’s Rhett Butler in all his

Glory cracking the whip on the backs of the horses and

Flying way.

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