, like swollen eyelids
behind Burney Falls,
a dozen nests daub the cliff.
Mother Swift is a black knife
thrust sidewise, the maul of water
rent. Shred-by-strand,
her cargo of moss jeweled
by the mist, she stalls
mid-air: Stone Sweet Home,
slicked over with spit.

In the streaming
the slow, exacting language of eggs.

No lulling pulse
, or voice –
chicks in their shells wake
to endless tumult. Pure roar.
Where warmth hovers,
each day’s solace is juiced
with spiders and gnats,
bees, beetles. Whatever it takes.

Hour by hour
, the breached
torrent. The killing cold.
For each shivering life,
she is the preening beak.

First hop
’s a doozy. Readied
for iridescence, her offspring
brave the shock of quiet,
dry air, and daylight. They carry,
from this flight forward, night’s
living sheen in their hollow bones.