Despite your brown belly, you still carry the vermillion
trademark of Virginia in the flecks of your rusty
tipped wings, my marvelous madam Cardinal.
Sing for me, my sweet, clumsy mother bird.
Twitter in tones like a digital blaster
and dance with your straw feet that jut and jive
about the round nest in oblong ovals:
your legs skip-tripping on feeble, unborn pebbles.
Fly in that forgetful flutter as you forage for food.
But be back to your twig-bowl abode holding
four little futures. Babes awaiting a hatching,
all asleep until that day. Even the odd
fifth egg. The fatter, foreign egg—laid in haste
by a stranger too cowardly to stay and nurture
her own soon-to-become brood Cowbird,
that breaks first. A chip and a chirp
and you’re called to your work, my simple spring-singer,
attending to your newborn. Not yours,
I mean to shout, but the wind rips out the sound.
Your song like a gunshot rings your return.
I gape as I watch your red crested head lean
down and bid from your blunt, peachy beak
the lumpy puke-slime that slides
into the wide smile of the lone little
parasite. A predator’s offspring. Perfectly content
with the presence of a surrogate mother. It sits in the soggy nest
with your four fetus babes—dozing in dribbling pools
of feathers, and bloodied pink yolk.
Gabriela Szczepankiewicz is a rising senior at Old Dominion University. After switching out of a STEM major, she found her passion for observing and exploring the world via creative writing. Spurred on by her achievement of winning an honorable mention in the ODU Undergraduate Poetry Prize Competition two years in a row, she hopes to publish her work and continue her creative aspirations.