A Window into Darfur
or a
Study of Complacency


Ann’s retirement home was idyllic:
water view, temperate climate, close to nature.
Stories of deer crossing through and salt licks,
cohogging, bass fishing, trapping lobsters,
and a tale of predator and prey that'll
always walk inside and around my head.

She tells of putting up a bird feeder
placed high on the large dining room window.
Clever arrangement, don't you think, to watch
and dine and let nature entertain?
Sparrows would gently land and peck at seeds.
First one, then two and more would come to feast.

A veritable convention! !
A union meeting of laborers A. F. B. U.
Amalgamated Feather Bearers' Union.
Noisy, all clamoring for position.
It made her laugh, such raucous behavior.
No Roberts Rules ruled here, just pure chaos.

Soon, the sparrows that came often became
individuals with familiar markings.
There was Bossy Bertha and Tiny Tim...
you get the idea; they became pets.
It became a study of comparison
between us and them--skin and feathers.

But in the Garden of Eden, roamed
an insidious serpent. Ann’s didn’t crawl
on its belly, rather it flew from high
and swooped down swiftly snatching smaller prey.
Hawks! Yes, hawks invaded Ann's domain.
A veritable feast for predators.

Imagine the dining table that night-
conversation stopped with a thud.
A thud on the window and a red
feathered smear dripping down into steamers and broth.
What the hell? Yes, what the hell. What the hell!
The sparrows were gone, scattered in a shriek. .


But sparrows have short memories and came back.
Only to be snatched up in grasping talons
and smashed against the idyllic opening.
The water view, the temperate clime so close
to nature, too close, too much nature.
Naiveté lured the innocent.

What started with such promise, a good idea;
even a mutual beneficial deal:
people provide food, and birds entertain,
ended with a twist from Mother Nature.
A cruel lesson on human interference:
an indictment of indifference.

That’s just like the janjaweed,*
who swooped down on the farmers,
killing, raping, looting a path;
shocking complacent diners who
are repulsed, but turn a blind eye and
yawn indifference and shrug helplessly.

After all, only the strong survive.
Ethnic cleansing is an exaggeration.
Genocide’s not possible, states the UN.
What can one do against hawks, or
devils riding on horseback, leaving
trails of dripping blood and feathers?


*janjaweed—an Arabic colloquialism of the words, “devil” and “horse”.
Winner of the OPrize for poetry. See Preacher Poets, 2008, ed.
Mr. Robert Curtis, O.P. www.lulu.com

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