by April Lindner

The swallows that freeload under the eaves
raise this summer’s first batch of nestlings.

First there’s a chorus of rustles and cheeps,
then the hatchlings begin to spill,
crowded or cast out. On hot cement

they lie, pale and gelatinous
but intact. From a sidewalk crack

the latest cranes its neck,
screeching the claim of the small
to be fledged and protected

and the human makes claims of her own:

to step quickly by, averting her eyes
from birds that fall like comets, like unripe fruit
like anything that can’t be saved.