Plump black birds land on wires overhead
the pecking order established
and line up with military precision
eight inches apart. Facing east
they keep feathers groomed,
ready for long-distance flight.
One bird pretends to belong.
Her neighbor leans in, Beat it.
The small bird remains rigid
mimicking those above and down the line.
The boss shifts toward her,
leans in again. Hey, I said beat it.
She shifts an inch away from him,
brave to ignore pressure
to stand her ground despite long odds.
I think of my daughter.
When a hatchling just out of college,
she landed on a plush wire
and watched the birds peck and perform.
Peers expected her to measure up
but had no patience to teach skills
as they solidified their flight
up the ladder.
The battle for position continues on the wire.
The bully persists. He creeps closer,
a body width between them now,
and he touches her, a Weinstein moment.
She shivers, shrinking with disgust and anger.
Then she flits up, floats down,
lands on a lower wire with less sun
and obstructed views
but safe from harassment.
The tormentor spreads his wings, a boast,
still aware of the lesser bird’s presence.
He sets himself back in formation
and waits for departure time.
The smaller bird considers her options.