The racket of spring has returned: the crocidilian chirp of bird staking claim. The return of the robin turns tree to sprouting: light bunches of yellow blotches on the ends of gnarled branches.
On this pre-dawn walk, my footsteps interrupt the established habit of the neighborhood flock. One robin sounds the alarm and flies from the street to the shadow of a tree. Voices melt on either side as legs of shuffle wind-breaker fabric together. A sound like brushing flour-coated hands on cloth: a light friction of finger ridge and plastic woven thread.
Man creates a pocket of quiet when he walks down the street, dark macadem wet in patches and ragged in shadow along the gutter. Bird song becomes silence, except the chirp of the one bird who didn't get the message. I walk like a ghost with creaky bones. Ahead, in the dark, is chatter. Behind the footfall song resumes--folding back over the street when I am through.
The self-interested lyric of the bird seeking mate or marking territory becomes the wider melody of the species. Reptilian throat that took to sky to survive the cataclysm: the fall of the world built for a billion years. Then this age of man, this brief pause. We walk paved streets and ignore the marvel of the nest we cover in scales of brick, asbestos, vinyl, and stone. The birds have turned the lizard hiss to eternal song while we have learned to make a hole a den that controls the climate.
All day at work I hear the chirp of birds in the voice of high school student, the nine year old at soccer, the preplanned sentence and cliche phrase of greeting and goodbye in hallway and on the field: the cacaphony of five a.m. birdsong. Brief, memorized clips of communication that signal meaning not so much by word or note as by lilt and pattern.
The nine year old, in an effort to prove he gets the current adult lingo tweets in tones that say "I get it; I'm in on it; I'm not a child." They say "LOL" out of context over and over. Teenage boys and girls, aware of their own importance, keep their real communices to themselves, whispering or muttering at table when they have work to do. A brash one will chirp sarcastic word or phrase that carries a meaning they think the adult will miss. The adult stakes her territory of time and manner by shuffling down the hall uttering some few words of catch and release. She welcomes with a rhetorical question. A smile, a witticism, a commiseration, an exchange of seconds marking her territory of time. We rush in separate directions to our concrete block rooms, flourescent lit, to enjoy a moment of quiet before the in-rush of students.