Actually, it’s those pesky ornithologists.
Today, while researching another book, I found out that The Moon Cracks Open: A Field Guide to the Birds contains some faulty science. Fortunately, it’s a book of poetry, so the science is of questionable import anyway. However, my poem “Writing at Grizfork Studio” identifies the magpie as Pica pica. Turns out, it should be Pica hudsonia.
They (ornithologists, not the VanPatten’s) had thought, until recently, that the black-billed magpie of the western U.S. (and my poem) was the same species as the eurasian magpie. But now, the official word is nope. (Not a very official sounding word, I know.)
Anyway, here’s the new version of the poem, based on the latest science. If you’d like to read the original, unscientific version, you’ll have to buy the book.
Writing at Grizfork Studio (Pica Hudsonia)
Each day begins
w/ the conversations of magpies
who never run out of things to talk about
Each morning unfolds
w/ the fact of those mountains
who never feel the need to say a thing
I sit at my desk
w/ both of them and try
to grab hold of something that lies between the two
On a good day,
I come close.