On a scarred city parking lot

a common striped grease patch.

I flushed one of nature's jewels,

an American Woodcock, Scolopax minor,

an eccentric game gird of the woods' edge,

who prefers the cover of brush,

and the darkness under ferns,

but whose ancient rhythms

compel him to emerge on spring evenings,

at exactly twenty two minutes after sunset,

to perform a mating skydance, a saraband,

once seen you remember for life.

Yet in one of nature's surprises

there he was, just beneath

my car, silent, waiting

and for a second meeting my eye

before erupting, whistling wings

and a few liquid notes, in a

quick crochet across the sky,

a target of feather and flesh for some,

but safe tonight -- free, buoyant

and rising, steadily rising,

'til he cleared the building

and disappeared into the evening sky.

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