Common cuckoo (male). National Audubon Society.
 cuckoo sings out spring
changeling in contented nest
songs of troth betrayed

A poem for 8 April , National Poetry Month, day 8.

They say the cuckoo returns in mid-April, its song ushering in the season of growth. I’ve always found our relationship to this bird to be strange. We have him singing out the time even in our nurseries. But this is a bird that drops her eggs into other nests, relying on other species to nurture her children, often displacing and thereby killing the nestlings of those forced into parenting her abandoned eggs. We have taken the name of this bird, the song it sings, as the name of those who have been betrayed, the cuckold. Shouldn’t it rather be the name of the betrayer? Similarly, we say the cuckoo personality is rather scattered in the head, with a benign sort of crazy. But there is nothing harmless about the cuckoo. She is an exploitative parasite. And there is no cuckoo’s nest. She does not build a home, she steals the hearth of others… As I said, it is strange…

©Elizabeth Anker 2022