Five summer minutes

Three young cardinals, newly fledged,
are trying out their wings in my lilac tree,
its white blooms long ago shriveled and fallen

to compost.

Hop and flap,
hop, flap,
the learners flutter branch to branch,
rosy flashes betraying their dusty camouflage

with every move.

They stick together, these cadets,
for safety, for confidence,
or because that’s what siblings do,

unite, coalesce, close ranks.

A monarch lands nearby on soaring stems of Joe-Pye weed,
draws nectar from tiny blooms and
my eye from the cardinal trio,
its vivid orange and black windowpanes blazing

garish against grey-mauve petals.

The fledglings pay it no heed,
but go about their business, cheep-cheeping
and diligently practicing their calisthenics,



they arise in unison
whoosh high into a nearby oak,
disappear briefly in the foliage,
and quickly move further on
to the next tree
and the next,
newly ready for flight
and adventure.

The monarch retains his flowery throne below,
and a solitary rabbit twitches in the grass,
forepaws aloft, nose aquiver.

_Kim Kishbaugh

Kim Kishbaugh is a journalist turned writer/editor living just outside Chicago. Her poetry has been published at Escape into Life and goodbaad poetry journal, and she blogs occasionally at