Landscape with Starlings
by Clyde Kessler
Clyde Kessler

Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, VA, with his wife Kendall, an artist, and their son Alan. He is working on a butterfly field guide for the Blue Ridge region, and is a founding member of the Blue Ridge Discovery Center, an organization dedicated to environmental education. You can learn more at

Starlings roost in the barn eaves.
Some are singing their rooster cries,
others crowd their voices with slurs,
grunts and chortles fudged with sunset.
One bird has sung its cliché wolf whistle
scratching the cold air.

The feedlot troughs are rusty now
like the back gates. Most of the cattle
have been sold and hauled off.
The seedpods of jimson weed have split
open past the fence. The last starlings
have sauntered into the barn, almost
like small, porked out bats trailing heaven.

We hope to buy one farm parcel by spring
near Bent Creek. Larks sing there, and sparrows.
It has a sliver of swamp sedge for their songs.
Mid-morning, the starlings fly over it, a stray
cat is hunting there for a mouse. The farm
will be auctioned off faster than a cat squall.
Even the starlings will fade before we know.

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