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.