Beer Bottle Bird by Ed Tato

The beer bottle bird –
she’d said when the monsoons hit –
is made for the rains
but each dry season
eats sand to survive.
The female leaves. It sleeps
alone in a soffit
or the galvanized pipe of a chain link fence.
The male waits at the edge
of a peach tree limb.
He girds the nest
with empty beer bottles.
He blows across them,
two long low notes.

Wind and rain
had swept the house
that night, the night
she threw another brick through the window.
You’d just finished rinsing
a pair of chickpeas
from her plate
and jumped at the crash.

She never came home –
not even after the skies cleared,
and you scraped
and painted the house,
hung empty bottles of every kind
from railings, gutters and eaves.

You smoke on the stoop
each night, until the freeway traffic fades,
but there are no birds,
there is no wind,
not a hint of a breeze
to make those bottles sing –
there’s only quiet,
which keeps you awake
as that last conversation loops in your mind:

Was it a love song,
you’d asked.

No,
she’d said,
no. There is no love song.

Ed Tato
ed_tato_author_photo_opt-1aEd Tato lives in Bayonne with a cat of indeterminate age but well-documented psychosocial maladies. Ed’s birth was augured by the final flight of airship ZPG-2 and the last episode of Felix The Cat and Friends. Mutt Wilson died that same curious day, and Ed’s been mourning ever since.