A House Is Not a Home

Which of the three of us could have guessed why the birds never came?
So emphatically placed in high limbs for them,
The milk-jug nests hung vacant-
A collection of them would sit near the back door,
Waiting for our grandparents' instructions
On how to cut them open, fill them with straw,
And hang them from limbs with string.
On those weekends, in a world away from
Our mother's legal custody, our grandparents would breathe relief
As we departed from the back step,
Sending us out with milk jugs flying behind us
And lighting another cigarette.
A yard's length away from the fumed house,
Away from the open windows from where no one looked to find us,
We advanced, free of surveillance, from tree to tree,
Leaving behind residual, milky jugs.
Weekends there disappointed our hopes as we peered into
The pallor-colored jugs, not finding life,
But trapped water and water-logged beds.
Somewhere between the ashtray in front of
The t.v and the property line were
Birds nesting, birds bathing
And hatching chicks in trees unvisited.

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