Summer Survivor* 35 lines
At Grandpa's farm in summertime
every afternoon at five
Swab would leave his front-yard shade
and we would ply the same old trail
through the hilly pastures
of Southern Illinois
to barn the cattle for the night.
But something marvelous
made the daily trek eventful.
A redwing blackbird joined our posse
every single day, rain or shine.
He'd punctuate the journey
with rolling tree-top melodies,
sometimes even fencepost flips,
and other daring wing-song combinations.
He'd greet us at the great persimmon,
then dance among the poplars,
and weave the fencerow half a mile
till we broke off toward the hollow
where the sated cattle loafed.
He'd reconnect on the backhaul
and rewind his artistry
while our long-stemmed caravan
slowly twisted home in single file.
I never understood his interest
in the daily round-up. Was our
tryst his only entertainment?
Or had he secret business
with my small companion?
Decades later I returned.
A condo crawl had buried all
beneath its cold cacophony,
except his trilling music score
and dashing choreography
scripted here from memory.
Jerome L. McElroy
*Accepted TAPJOE (mid-1999)