The truth about the cuckoo
In meadow grass, a robin serenades
on ivied stones. Beside this stage, his hen
investigates some boulders, then invades
a crevice, moulding moss into a den
to lay her brood. Nearby, a cuckoo’s call
evokes the bubbling chuckles of his mate,
who spies the nest ensconced within the wall
and parks her eggs inside to incubate.
The unrelated chicks emerge and prise
the rightful babies from their cradle, feign
instinctively, their empty-bellied cries.
Dim surrogate is hoodwinked to sustain
those parasitic tricksters, picking ants
and worms, from farmer’s fertile shovelled earth.
Departing from their host, the fledglings chant
cu coo, perceptibly now thrice her girth.
When sun diminishes, freeloaders crowd
to far-flung lands, enticed by warmer clime,
returning when the ground is freshly ploughed
as redbreasts gather moss at nesting time.