Startling Poetry: Cowbird and Robin

Cowbird and Robin by Cynthia Blomquist Gustavson

My Oklahoma rambler has a tornado shelter

underground with a heavy door. I ignore

weather watches that interrupt my favorite

shows until they upgrade to warning.

Before bed I glance at radar circles,

listen for the wah-whine of sirens.

and if nothing’s near, I go to sleep

Same for robberies and rapes

and even the war. You get used

to anything. Except, I thought,

a cowbird rolling robin’s eggs out

of our porch nest, baby blue shells

splattering their contents on the brick

like morning eggs in a frypan,

No good for eating, just absent

from a nest that then held a cowbird egg

tended by mama and papa robin,

and I got used to that too when I saw

the fledgling cowbird waving its wet wings,

its adoptive parents watching, warning,

gently nudging him into the world.

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