You can call the chickadees with a repeated psh sound,
like popping tires or an air mattress. My uncle’s a birder,
he tells me these things. He can spend hours
behind a pair of binoculars, waiting for the sight
of some rare fistful of feathers. I wish I cared more
about the birds, but I am interested in omens,
which share their roots with ornithology—
the direction of a vulture’s flight could help divine
the will of the gods. That, and the willingness of a lamb
to approach the altar. There’s a farm in these mountains
run by vegans, who raise Icelandic sheep to feed,
ethically, they say, the appetites of others. Spot
the young rams in the shaking brush. They emerge, as if floating
under thick coats, decked in leaves, weeks before the slaughter.
Alexandria Hall’s debut collection of poetry, Field Music (Ecco, 2020), was selected by Rosanna Warren as a winner of the National Poetry Series. She holds an MFA from New York University and is now a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California.
Image: “Studies van lammetjes,” Jan van Ravenswaay, 1821. Courtesy of Rijksmusuem.