I had wanted us to be friends,
But we were merely acquaintances,
These birds that no longer called or come by.
Some thirty years ago when we first bought
The homeplace on a small farm
I would talk to Bobwhite quail with whistles mimicking his name,
Enticing a visit or to keep the conversation going.
But he was only willing to come as far as the wood line,
Where he remained a shadowy figure,
Preferring to talk from his side of an invisible fence
With me across the yard on the other.
Some say that loss of habitat due to farmland
Becoming suburb or the introduction of house cats
In urban sprawl or fire ants on the rise
Signaled the demise of ground-nesting birds.
Similar to the whippoorwill,
Who would regularly drop by
Just before sundown to say, "Hello".
He was obviously an introvert and was of few words
Only comfortable enough to repeat the same one over and over.
Singing until we understood both the word and its meaning,
Repetition being one of the two great teachers in life.
Finally, the Rufous-side Towhee
Who talked to me some fifty years prior
When I was a small boy.
He encourage me to "Drink your tea!"
From the trees and shrubs beyond the garden and the burn pile.
I guess I just assumed he had moved off
To another town or state the way some elementary school
Classmates did not return after a long hot summer,
their parents having moved the family away.
Then one day, unexpectedly, while sitting on the screen porch
I heard his familiar voice from my distant past urging me
Once again, "Drink your tea! Drink your tea!"
It brought a smile to my face, what sweet memories.
How long had it been? Far too long I was sure.
I wonder how'd he'd been and what paths his life had taken him down?
I wanted to see his face, to look him in the eye, to see if he had aged like me.
But like the rural route carrier, who never has time to get out of their car
To carry on extended conversations, they only have time enough
For a word or two, perhaps just a wave before they must be moving on,
He had succeeded in bridging time, but still kept distance between us.
This echo from childhood had only swung by to relay a simple message.
All of these would-be friends have not become close,
But rather have preferred to maintain only a slight knowledge
Of friendship, a memory of what was and yet somehow never was,
Weaving in and out of my life, as casual acquaintances,
They only offer only an echo of friendship
And songs that always elicit a smile.

Written by Seed
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