Limpkin, May 1st, Frères, Haiti
At 5:30 one morning in May
my friend heard a haunting, wailing sound,
some kind of swamp monster no doubt.
She wasn’t in the wilderness,
but not far off a busy road,
on a seminary campus,
near the Police Academy.
And yet, she heard that sound.
Was it a bird, she wondered?
We listened on my phone
to sounds of birds of our region.
It was something big, she said.
Some kind of heron?
A White-necked Crow?
A Palm Crow?
She listened carefully and shook her head.
No, she said, it sounded like this…
crying, grating, rattling…
Finally someone suggested we try
and sure enough,
there was the sound,
once heard, never forgotten,
a prehistoric creaking scream
across the waking city.
It’s the sound they use in movies
when they want something truly exotic and jungly,
the sound of the Hippogriff.
Brown, with a long, slightly curving bill,
protecting its territory
with a haunting, wailing sound,
at 5:30 one morning in May.
©Ruth Bowen Hersey