A flock of blackbirds descends—ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred—in a river of darkness. They rest on the ground a moment only, then lift, whirling so their red shoulders catch the light all at once. This is the season of excess: of mud and vast fields, of chattering birds clinging to trees like black leaves. In a few weeks frogs will sing so loudly you will hear them two miles away. Weeds and flowers and grasses will bolt upward, charged by the lengthening light. Dandelions will erupt across the new lawns like galaxies.
Each season rushes forward as if we did not just do this last year, as if we do not know how it will end, in sodden leaves and rotten snow. For thousands of years people have siphoned the sweet sap of sugar maples when it rises in these first warming days. For millions of years the aspen have raced the red maples to bud first. Starlings have recently joined the blackbirds and grackles but the flocks still circle, endlessly repeating their metal-wire calls. Why should we expect them to tire? It’s not the same blackbird that has flown through these centuries. Only people imagine the years cycling back, uncountable as leaves, or stretching forward to a strange and stunted future. Only people gather up years not allotted to us, and droop with their weight.
Listen: the woodcock whirs in its corkscrew dive. Water whispers as it snakes through the bare fields. Your heart beats: now, now, now, now. Low over the eastern ridge, the moon begins to rise.
Erin Ruble works as an attorney when she's not writing. She lives in Vermont with her husband and two children, a cat and dog, and the occasional flock of chickens.
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Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash
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