The buds let fly a pungent spring flavor,
and the sunlight fanned across
the bare ground for unperching.
Restlessness crept in, a necklace
around the male’s long neck, below where
his beak would open to sing,
if he were the kind to sing. His
back gathered itself to lengthen and
widen. He needed more room now
and soon found it in a clearing he had been
keeping his eye on, with a
hollow log planted at one edge.
Now he had to wait only a day or two
until something in the air called, Time!
before he’d start to grow. His clawed toes prepared to
tick on the leaves, his strut to shorten. His
hidden shoulders would soon begin their
burgeoning, beyond wings, into the
great hissing ruff. The tail would stiffen, and within
his chest new lungs would at last open. Now
his pace would march him
strut by strut toward the hidden music, to
mount the hollow log, shuffle
his feathered feet, and drum drum drum
drum drum till the whole forest shuddered.
Excerpted from Breathing Room by Peter Davison. Copyright © 2002 by Peter Davison. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.