by Jon Olseth
Bluebird boxes line the battlefield road
where down Bloody Lane he goes to count
eggs or clear straw for new nesting.
He unscrews the top and peers inside
and calls to his wife who keeps record
of each house from the passenger seat
with a journal set upon her lap.
Mice or snakes often take residence
and they are gently cleared away for those
who require a bit more of a nudge.
There is a metaphor in this I know.
I feel it time and time again watching
them gathering the annual census
in the bleached light of sweltering August.
They drive a ways, and out again he plows
through honeysuckle and high grass
to lean on the fencepost, adjust his cap,
and glance once more at the bluebirds there
with open mouths to receive this old man
and the woman who has always loved him,
who waits for him with her pencil raised
like a question mark in the Maryland sky.