In spite of all the activity
on the front porch,
Phoebe laid eggs in the nest.
She doesn’t move off the nest
when the chickens, guineas or Maizey
are on the porch, but the moment
I touch the front door, trying to make
not a sound,
trying to open it very slowly,
she’s off the nest—so fast,
I’m often still inside the house
when she flies away.
One evening, at dusk,
I managed to walk onto the porch
and sit at the far end
without her seeing, hearing me.
She stayed on the nest,
unaware, I imagine,
of my presence. Her partner,
nearby in the Hackberry tree,
called incessantly, “Fee-bee”
until it grew dark and I went in.

Her partner often sits on a limb
nearby, calling.
And now he brings food,
flying up to the nest,
standing on the edge. She opens
her mouth and he feeds her,
then she mashes the worm
and feeds it to the little ones
beneath her. Using those tiny feet,
she gathers the flock beneath her
and all settle back in
until next feeding.
Too, sometimes Mama flies off
to fetch a worm
and brings it back,
standing on the nest,
feeding her wee flock.


I avoid going out on the porch now,
or staying long if I do;
or, I wait, until dusk,
and, instead, watch
the Phoebe family
through the French dining room
doors that open onto the porch.
It’s as if, longingly,
I open my mouth,
my heart,
to be fed.
And the Phoebes,
in their sweet care
for life,
feed mine too.