The Cohort

By Maxine Kumin

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It's true: you wake up one morning and they're gone,
the flock of a hundred redpolls who swept in like Huns
with their tiny red caps and black moustaches,
their breasts freckled and stippled like thrushes',
an irruption of redpolls you haven't seen in a decade
and may never see again in the disorderly parade
of your lifetime. How they intimidated the chickadees,
the titmice, even the needle-nosed nuthatches,
batting your year-round faithfuls away from the feeder.
How they chattered, snatching and flapping, rapacious
yet charming in their little red yarmulkes …
you shiver, remembering, refilling the cylinder.
The sunflower seeds glisten like ebony.
O merciless January, where has the cohort gone?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/01/the-cohort/303708/