Morning programs for young children are quite enlightening. Squeals of delight from my granddaughter, Zoe, drew me willingly in like a magnet, one morning, overwhelmed as I was to learn what captured her interest. Over an hour we cuddled together, a special time indeed. The make-believe world she shared with me was filled to overflowing with creativity, a wonderland of learning so subtly immersive and deep. When we parted, I knew I had taken something away, tangible and yet not tangible. Nevertheless, I knew nothing counted without it; it was a treasured gift that ran so deep. Time? You might ask. Yes, would be my reply. But there was something more. A different way of seeing the world wrapped up in the love and wisdom of a six-year-old.
Thank you, sweet Zoe. I would never have written this without having spent time with you.
A group of sheep is a herd or flock;
the shepherd is never a flocker.
A volery of birds is a fleet or flight
also a pod, congregation or parcel.
While small birds’ in groups
a dissimulation is called,
a mouthful to remember indeed!
Though these words are few,
soon you’ll learn new,
to describe a flock, congregation or parcel.
A gaggle of geese look up from the ground;
while in flight a skein, a wedge of their kind take notice
of Albatross—feathered giants indeed—
in flock or rookery combined.
“Spectacular!” the geese exclaimed,
in confidence of the sighting just seen.
Until the screech from the ground
where a party of jays
made the whole thing turn upside down.
“What do jays know?” was the harsh, self-assured, raucous reply
from the murder of crows nearby.
“There’s no mystery in this!”
screeched their unison entreat,
“It just simply is.”
A committee of vultures circled the gathering
waiting for the ripe time to come down.
“Look!” alerted the fall of woodcock:
“a wake, a kettle ‘uptown.’
An exaltation of larks
drowned out the woodcocks;
while an unkindness of ravens
on their way to the barn
scared a gulp of swallows in turn.
Grouped in charms, chattering, drums or troubling
—whatever their group is called—
humming wings and twittering squeak,
the hummingbirds’ nectar reply
was to counsel the geese
and give the jays peace
the hardest wisdom to buy.
In the front of the court
a murmuration of starlings and a host of sparrows patiently sit looking on;
while a pitying of turtledoves and a rafter of turkey hope the trial will not last long.
When the learned parliament of owls finally arrived,
with white gowns all newly preened;
before they could “hoo”
a prorogue was ensued
from the charm of warbling finch.
When the bouquet of pheasant nodded support
— simply not expecting a hitch—
that’s when the ostentation of peacock
yelled “Foul play!” and called it “A BITCH!”
when the owls consorted
with a sord of mallards
the tidings of magpies flew away.
Debate and rebuttal and erudite rubble
crumbled the mumble astray;
until egos did stumble
and they did fumble
apparently lost in melee.
An answer came out
—expedient no doubt—
and here’s what they had to say:
“Agreement lies far to the south…there’s simply no other way.”
—filled with doubts—
their dilemma chirped underway.
“Hoo, hoo-hoo, HOOH should go,
mallard or owl this day?”
“That answer is easy,”
quacked the team of ducks,
bunched up with their newly born.
A hush, like hoar-frost,
suddenly settled over
the cacophonous pod that day.
“Hmm!” said the chief owl, glaring down his nose
at the paddling of duck on the pond.
“Hoo-hoo can a bunch of ducks like you
and your brood of duckling know?”
His oppressive eyes and threatening ways
gave the ducks a stuttering blow.
a dole of doves
to defiantly stand in a row.
“Hoo, hoo-hoo, HOOH! Okay!” the chief owl yawned,
“If you must. Let’s hear what you have to say.”
A young duckling stepped forth
to firmly take hold
her bold intention precise:
“Your answer is clear! Stay here!” she exclaimed,
stamping her web-foot twice.
“But…” stumbled the owl,
trying to recover
from someone as outspoken as she:
“the… Kingdom of Penguins…
with their waddle on land and their raft in water
have wisdom greatly revered.”
“I don’t give a damn!” the duckling exclaimed
“Look around you silly old owl!”
With a paradoxical look the parliament shook,
and clearly shrugged an answer in vain;
while moans and groans as if in pain
mixed with the congregations’ disdain.
The duckling strode forth
and with her mother’s support
the duckling took center stage.
“Wait!” she cried out,
with a surprising rapport,
for someone as young as she.
With the tip of her wing, she took them all in
especially the parliament to her lee.
“The paradigm shift
is real easy to see
if only you would all listen, please.”
When the siege of herons called out their support,
the volery of birds settled down.
“Here’s my question to you,” she slowly began,
earnestly looking around.
A slight murmur arose
among all the rows
until silence reposed profound.
“How many agree ,”
she preceded her challenge,
“raise a wing if you concur,
that a flock or rockery
of Albatross in flight
is a spectacular sight to see?”
Opinions and thoughts never really sought,
the pods hesitated ever so slight.
A glance to the left,
A glance to the right,
the center led the flight.
All wings raised
—except the jays—
for what they knew was right.
The chief owl humbled,
but still shrewdly insightful,
did not let his goals go astray.
“Answers all, lie within?” He thought,
this scrupulous circumspection could pay.
His trap now laid
the duckling displayed,
scooped up so the flock could see.
His position without doubt
would now have real clout
sea to sea to sea.
Then laughter broke out
his parliament backed out
pee-hoo, pee-hoo at he.
When the chief owl looked down,
it was with a frown,
his white gown was all brown
below where the duckling had peed.
His plans now a shamble
by his selfish gamble
revealed by an innocent duckling like she.
When the duckling got down
she stood her ground
and the pod drew near to hear.
“Our rights are our might
to someone the likes of he.
Though choices may be slender
your vote must be rendered
to ensure your destiny.”