I wandered the arboretum paths
finding the California Natives and a bench,
losing my mind deciding and re-deciding,
as if my life — and yours — depended on one thing.
The quail came,
cautious, curious, plump and clicking
from beneath the manzanita,
eyeing my empty hands.
Topknot quivering, the male
mounted a rock, alert and watching
his flock fanning wide by my feet
busy in their need for food.
Late lupines bloomed beside his rock:
carpenter bees and one butterfly,
hoverflies and a long black lizard,
something buzzing in the bush beyond —
all these the flock ignored.
I moved my arm.
The quail raced
losing themselves in ten directions
when the male called and dropped, vanishing
as if his life — and theirs — depended on one thing.
I waited, as still as stone,
hoping they would return.
A Cooper’s Hawk swept over the path
Photo by Kavida Vilawan