White Storks

They came in mid-autumn,

sailing across the stark brown hills

like white ghost-ships

and settling on the tiled roofs

of the villas by the school

 

To the muezzin’s deep dismay,

they built a nest atop the minaret

and when the  birds began to mate,

girls hid their faces as they passed

and boys made lewd remarks.

 

For me they were more clowns than lovers,

flapping their black-fringed cloaks,

parading on stilts,

preening their finery

with comic strapped-on noses

as we, the audience, looked on,

sipping green tea from

gold-rimmed glasses.

 

From my balcony,

we watched them take their leave,

beaks thrust out and legs dangling,

their puissant wings

overpowering the air

as if they were racing to

some imaginary finish line

in the far, far north.

When the last straggler had disappeared,

we headed back inside

and waited patiently for spring.

 

(originally published in Third Wednesday)

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