December Ecology
Wally Smith

Last Saturday
I watched a warbler
ply the fifteen levels
of hemlock outside my bedroom,
fingering spare needles
off its fringes, backlit by morning.
Someone told me once
you could find seven kinds of warbler
in a single tree, some of them
bottom-dwellers in the dense,
scented underbelly, others still
strafing the braided topknot
of branches like lookouts
scouting fire.
This separation, he said,
it was all due to competition:
for prey, for space, for mates.
It only reminded me
of New Year’s morning, and us
picking limbs off the artificial spruce
in the living room and sorting them:
the ones with blue electrical tape first,
then orange, finally red. 

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