Note: The brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater, rather than raise its own young, lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, which may or may not accept them or the nestlings that emerge from them.


How long it took to think of such!
Since mothering has proved too much,
My next egg goes into the nest
Of one more apt to pass that test.

The chick would get a chance to hatch
Among young close enough to match;
It might be fed until it fledged
If strangeness should remain alleged.

I could return to my fine herd,
The proper life for this proud bird,
Since tending cows is what I do
And to myself I must be true.


Jane Blanchard lives and writes in Georgia.  Her first collection, Unloosed, is available from Kelsay Books.  Her second, Tides & Currents, was released earlier this year.

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4 Responses

  1. James Sale

    Enjoyed this poem; I am not familiar with this bird, though in England we have one that is similar – the cuckoo, which lays eggs in other birds nest and whose young grow up to destroy their ‘foster’ parents. This became a potent metaphor in Elizabethan England – Shakespeare’s Love’ Labour’s Lost for example – where the sound of the bird is ‘unpleasing to the married ear’.

  2. David Hollywood

    Nature at its very honest. Thank you for the reflection – lovely!

  3. Wendy Bourke

    Very thought provoking! This struck me as a metaphor for parents who abandon their children completely to the school system – or even private schools. They are true to themselves … but at what cost to their children. Thoroughly enjoyed the rhyme in this wonderfully rendered piece.


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