The Dusk Chorus

of a Portuguese Promenade Concert

Two–a–penny sparrows –
cheap their ransom price,
chirrupy–cheep their limited range of speech –
yet each one a designer pet
of the Father of creation,
not one of whom falls sick or breathes its last
but he is personally in attendance.

Such busy separate lives they lead
throughout the Algarve’s sunbright day;
maintaining in siesta hours
a symphathetic silence, but . . .
sundown is their time to socialize.

Now Albufeira’s public plaza
corrals the unthinking human herd
who meet to shop and drink and dine.
Sparrows jam–cram many trees
to celebrate their Happy Hour –
sans steaks, without sangria,
pahella, chicken piri–piri, porto, yet
they still can have a ball,
and fill the air with deafening decibels.

A German tour guide struts his stuff. ‘Watch this!’:
his sudden single handclap
does not signify applause
to thank these massed choirs for their dusk chorale.
As if one mind controlled the mega–cast,
the myriad–membered uproar stops on cue –
whether from curiosity or contempt –
but straightaway the song–and–dance resumes,
no moment of enjoyment must be lost.

The cheerful, chirruping chit–chatter –
to human ears a mere chaotic noise –
makes sense to every bird–brain in the flock,
a symphony of worship to their God:

‘The day you made is well–nigh ended;
we filled it full with carefree toil for bread;
as privileged as angels in high heaven,
we bless you – it’s such fun to be alive
and share this fellowship of kindred souls.’

Their chirruping crescendo quite drowns out
the music of the folk group ‘neath the trees
who boast electric amplifiers’ boost.

‘Ole and hallelujah! Si, Senhor!’

Hugh Thompson

9 October, l999

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