Maybe you've noticed that around here red-winged blackbirds aren't rare, but aren't seen often, either, and then, at distance, banking away from roads as we pass.

But one morning, I saw a hundred, more, feeding on seed I'd scattered under a line of pines planted more than a hundred years before.

Almost at rest, their feathers folded close, only yellow wingbars break their black bodies. But when, as they did, all at once, they lifted, that red . . .

I've tried for a long time, and maybe should, to tell you how the disembodied redwings flared and vanished. I've lost them in every telling.

So much for me. I could die now, anyway. Could you? We will close our eyes and rest, in case the blackbirds, in slow motion, assume again the flames they are, and rise.

— William Heyen

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