A Good Plan

On Monday the snow fell in blades of endless white, but still the old woman came, bearing tasty morsels of summer past.  Rich, mysterious and magical bouquets followed her, as the brothers watched from a hidden perch.  So anxious were the observers, had they been big enough and brave enough, they would have robbed her before journey’s end.  Yet there was more to fear than the wobbling gait of this ancient human.

Head bent and tucked inside her shawl, she never saw the hawk, and a might avian vision of prowess he was.  Golden eyes, rusty back, speckled chest and slightly bored but ever confident, he pruned an itchy spot just beneath his wing with a sharp nib.  His tail, as long as his body, fanned out toward the rising sun and turn the king’s feathers to gold.  The quartet of bachelors, admiring his armory, cooed over his long talons, piercing the rotten fence.

“I’m so hungry,” Petey said.

“I too am starved,” Repete said.

“I haven’t sluiced a worm since November,” Echo peeped.

Quiver could not bring himself to speak or sing.  He summoned the strength to shutter, salting the ground with more snow, for he held the most undesirable position on the limb.

“If we dive, all together, toward the treasure, we might shoo the hawk away,” Petey said.

“Unlikely,” Repeat said.

“If we go, one at a time, the hawk will take one and leave the rest of us to eat the repast.  That’s pretty colorful odds.” Echo prophesied.

With that omen, or, perchance, the over alluring sight of food, Quiver, alit from the safety of the bush, sailed through the biting sleet and rushed the stash.  No more useless tweets for him; his belly drove him forward, and each of the bachelors flew the gauntlet, no less ravenous than his kin.

On Tuesday the old woman dawdled, but she came nonetheless with her bucket.  From a pocket she withdrew a few crusty crumbs and littered the ground with bread, an offering of redemption for her tardiness, perhaps.  The burnt flour wicker-up the snow, but the seeds remained warm and brown inside the artificial shell with its beaten brass roof.

As if summoned, the hawk returned too.

“I’m so hungry,” Petey said.

“I too am starved,” Repete said.

“The same ploy as before?” Quiver asked, for yesterday’s plan seemed just as good as it had the day before.  And once again their tiny hearts mustered courage to solo beyond the crypt of evergreen.

On Wednesday the hawk consulted his mate, “Another scrumptious wren, my dear?”

“The wind blows from the north,” Ladyhawk said.  “Snuggle with me a bit.”

Ever faithful, the old hag brought her bucket.  After she chocked the feeder, she paused, as if something were amiss, but could find nothing at fault.

“I’m so hungry,” Petey said.

“I wish the old crow would hurry up and dash back to her nest,” his brother murmured, without fluttering a wing, least he conjure the enemy.  Always a good politician, Quiver added, “On this day we may stuff ourselves in peace, and there shall be more for each.”

“Perhaps not,” said a cardinal, zooming above their heads.  “For I have waited three days to fill my gullet, and I shall not be denied.”

The end.


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