SWIFT

Two years ago
in April
the swifts made a nest in our chimney.
I heard the babies chirping
small echoes through the den.
My husband supposed my fancy
Had once again
overtaken my good sense
until that is
the babies got bigger and their peeps
became shrieks.

We called the exterminator.
Not bats, he said.
It’s swifts.
Too bad.

Swifts it turns out
are protected.
Their habitat is gone
and once they decide to live with you
You have to share.
Wait till autumn and when they move off
put a screen on the chimney.

In the meantime
we shared.
We’d watch at sunset
as they’d make big circles around the roof
catching mosquitoes
to feed their little screamers.
Get those buggers, we’d yell
encouraging.

In August
one bird flew down the chimney
sweeping our heads
interrupting  dinner.
Stewart the cat
quick to the challenge
caught the swift mid-air and ran upstairs
to extend the game.
We managed a rescue
when Stewart released the bird
for the joy of recapture.
Wrapped in a fresh-laundered shirt
the creature throbbed in panic.
We opened the window
popped out the screen
and shook the bird loose.
She flew off
swift as her name.

We poured some wine
and resumed our dinner
and toasted the swift and the cat
and our luck
with houseguests.