Somewhere in the word casualty is the word casual,
and what they share is chance, the accident,
the unexpected interval, the arbitrary nature
of the natural: or unnatural, like the woman
in the picture in the news, her face obscured,
her covered head half-bowed as if in prayer,
whose right arm is severed at the shoulder
from a car bomb in a marketplace in the Al Jabbar
suburb of old Baghdad, who becomes the captured
soldier beheaded in the district of Dahana-ye
Ghori in a province in the north, Afghanistan.
And so on, as reported: people once collateral
cut to size or killed, turning little death
to larger death then back again to small,
only, by tomorrow, the paper they were printed on.
Meanwhile, the birds, the blackcaps, the fan-tails
and fifty names or more of other warblers,
plus owls and hawks and golden orioles,
lamented if not prized for their beauty
or their song, are missed by the thousands,
maybe millions, in Cyprus and in general
the Aegean, where they're caught in traps
of lime-sticks and mist-netting: hard to believe
the animal need for protein from something
hardly hand-sized and literally light as feathers.
Or is it the feather in the voice we're after,
the secret of the chip, the chir, the tew,
or the feather in the cap, the sign of victory?
Birds in the billions, the elegant article says,
"flooding up from Africa…avian populations"
becoming, bird by bird, "sub-optimal."