Marsh Wren

                                                                           Photo by Mark Seth Lender


their tumbling joy
decanted descanting
over cobble
st0nes in and out
of firethorn back
and forth to gingko
who knows
who will
ever know
what net
bings them
I would not
lose them
could not lose
them know
if there's
place another
world another life
there must be wrens.

—Susan Stewart (b. 1952)

Field Note


Marsh Wren, in the season when he breeds, is the Colossus of Reeds. He clambers between the stalks and sings, a song designed to tell his small world,  "I'm here, this patch belongs to me!" From British Columbia all the way to New England, that little bird - like a small dog out for a walk on his leash - seems to have an inflated sense of Self. And like his canine counterpart there is no bite behind his bark. Cattails are the crenellations of Marsh Wren's imaginary castle. He calls out would-be challengers and foes, even though, these exist mostly in his oversized imagination. 

Mark Seth Lender 

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"Wrens" by Susan Stewart from Red Rover. Copyright © 2008 by Susan Stewart. Reprinted with the permission of the author and University of Chicago Press.