Adult Male Guineas

Joe and Maizey
have killed young guineas,
and from that horror
we learned to keep the guineas
safely in the barn for a good nine months
until they’re old enough to fly well
and run fast.
Still, we have panicked
when the bird dogs have taken out
at full throttle, barking at guineas
who have flown the coop.
We’ve yelled at the dogs,
scolded them
and distracted them with prolonged petting.
The two adult male guineas have now survived
a year.

This morning,
one flew out of the pen
and then, as usual,
couldn’t remember how to fly
back over into the pen.
It began pacing the fence
and has been doing so
for more than hour.
I tried to herd it in
but Maizey saw me
and began barking.
So I shifted my focus
to petting her
and eventually she and Joe
settled in their wicker chairs
on the front porch.
Still, the guinea paces along the fence,
back and forth,
looking for a gate,
forgetting to fly up.
It continues to squeak
and the other guineas squawk to it.
I’ve tried to mentally communicate
“Fly up,”
but without getting through.
Still, it paces.
Eventually, it will fly up.
Ironically, if the dogs went after it
it would immediately fly up onto the fence.
But I’m glad they aren’t.
They can see the guinea,
hear the guineas,
and still, they stay on the porch.
It is their very nature
to hunt and kill birds,
which, when successful,
they proudly bring to us.
But for some reason,
they are leaving the guinea alone today.

I celebrate our very natures:
with them, we all contribute to the web of life.
But I am warily hopeful
about this development.
For one thing,
we’d like the guineas to be able
to safely patrol the whole area
for ticks and grasshoppers.
But, more compelling,
is the thought that
we can come to overcome aspects of our very nature
when it means living in harmony
with community.
A stretch?
Perhaps.
But I’m going to take it.