Starlings at Dusk

The starlings gathered at dusk, like a congregation assembling for evening prayer. From all directions they came, starting in groups of five or six, slowly amassing into a great swarm that danced and flickered like a great creature all of its own.

First left, then up, now north, the murmuration pulsed in every direction, sometimes crashing like a wave, sometimes swelling like smoke caught in an updraft. Strange shapes emerged, Nin thought he saw the shade of a whale, now a swan, now a raven.

Nin was jealous. How beautiful it was! How majestic they were! When rabbits moved together, they remained a group of individuals, each straining against the crowd, each keenly aware of their own individualness. Although they ran in the same direction, they did not run as one mind, as one soul.

Nin wrote a quick haiku to mark the evening:

Wet grass;
starlings gather
and summon the moon

This felt rather good. He felt that in some way the spirit of his old friend, the bluebird, was with him. That his desire for pure creative expression had not died with the bluebird, the one who had taught him the joys of poetry.

When the murmuration finally settled for the night, so thick in the trees that in the dark they looked like leaves, he composed another poem:

The beech alive
and squirming-
starlings at dusk

But as the last of the light faded behind the horizon, Nin could not help but feel a strange sense of foreboding.