Finicky Mrs. Wren

A busy blur of brown and gray,
finicky Mrs. Wren all day

flits to the field, a patch of woods,
to every yard in the neighborhood

and back again to the little perch
of her yellow house, all day in search

of things to complete her nest inside
until she’s finally satisfied.

To Mr. Wren’s strange mess of sticks
that every spring she has to fix,

she adds some oak and maple twigs,
not too small and not too big,

some strips of bark, the perfect length 
to give her nest more curve and strength.

And after that, once more she’s off
for other things to make it soft:

a cloud-like clump of windblown fluff
from the cottonwood tree, just enough,

a piece of moss like a little green rug
so her nest stays warm and snug.

Back and forth all day she flits,
and through the hole in their house she fits

not just each different thing she brings
but herself too, making sure each thing

is put in its proper place inside
until she’s finally satisfied.

She brings some needles from the pine,
not too many, smooth and fine,

some blades of grass for extra comfort,
not too long and not too short,

and human things her nest can use: 
a frayed old lace from someone’s shoes,

a bit of crumpled paper snatched
from a trash-can’s scattered trash.

Back and forth, a brown-gray blur,
from woods and field, she brings some fur

left by rabbits, squirrels, and such,
not too little, not too much,

and even one tuft from a Saint Bernard
caught on a branch in a corner yard.

But she’s not done – just a few more trips,
and into the tiny hole she slips 

a swatch of a garter snake’s shed skin,
not too thick and not too thin,

some black and red and speckled feathers
dropped from the passing wings of others,

from a coat on a hook a wisp of wool,
and when her nest is almost full

she finds a tossed-off piece of string
and puts it in, the final thing.  

But even then, after she’s found
all she needs from trees and ground,

even when she’s satisfied
with every thing she put inside

the yellow house, inspects her nest
and sees it’s good, the very best,

she’ll lay her eggs and in two weeks
there’ll be six chattering, reaching beaks

now to feed, and Mrs. Wren,
with Mr. Wren’s help, will search again

for beetles, crickets, millipedes,
the flies and moths each hatchling needs

to fly from the yellow house away,
a small new blur of brown and gray.

Elise Hempel

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