And so the murmuration of starlings
descended upon the house.
They swept at its roof, shingles, and siding
like a corrosive liquid—cawing, morose.
When all had landed, packed feathers in tow,
atop the roof, lining the gutters, brimming the chimney, a silence came.
A swelling in the atmosphere, the absence of sound
somewhere far off, a barometer ticking back the visage of time.
But from the door comes a man, as it always is.
He is clad in a tattered robe—coarse face, lines engraved
as though he were carved of limestone.
With a bow, he greets the gray sun and black birds.
Their whole heads twitch when they watch him;
their eyes are refractive.
They have made a deal, the man and the starlings.
In the mornings, they will come and sing him a song.
And the man will wake, take comfort, remember
the arid tinge of breath, and continue his ritual.
In the evenings, the man will come and climb their trees.
He will tuck each of them in and leave the nest undisturbed.
Some nights, the ones the starlings prefer,
he, too, will sing a song.
It will be a whisper, a resonance containing the DNA
of all life—nether, unfurling, as he climbs down and goes to sleep.