Magpie Harm

They blind the lambs
these black and white birds,
traveling in pairs across the rain-dark lawn.
They’re dangerous and despicable,
argues my friend, recognizing
their cruelty year by year

as long as flocks have bred.
It is a cold day, a city
brittle with traffic.
Where is there a way
vehicle fumes and coal sweat
have not soiled?

Two of the birds are searching
the grass beyond the stretching
chestnut tree roots, twin
assassins in the late afternoon.
And I get ready to tell my companion that

these birds take no joy in destruction,
nor in the agony of the new-born.
They gather new-minted pennies and
dazzling buttons, isn’t that the legend?

Planning nests of treasures,
they wing across the iron land
each evening, disappointed
in the taste of blood.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians south of the Egyptian capital on Friday, killing 24 people and wounding 25, officials said.
The Affordable Care Act has changed our expectations for health care. It shifted the way we live, which may be shifting what we believe.
Michael RozierMay 25, 2017
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speak to the media about President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget in the Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The U.S. bishops have raised some serious concerns about what this proposal says about our national values.
The EditorsMay 25, 2017
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, accompanied by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, following after a Republican policy luncheon. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Congress is asking the nation to make “immoral choices,” said Sister Keehan, the president of the Catholic Health Association.
Kevin ClarkeMay 25, 2017