by Jo Ann Baldinger
The wild hens of Kauai cannot carry a tune or even make a lovely sound. Yet this one has climbed the wooden steps to the porch not in search of crumbs (the roosters got them all) but, it seems, to listen to Arrau’s recordingof the Beethoven sonatas. It’s “Les Adieux” that really floors her, those first aching notes:Farewell, the piano sings, and she’s riveted, motionless, her chicks tucked beneath her plump and speckled breast --one fat bird on 14 scrawny legs. Only her head turns,aiming one invisible ear and then the other toward the tinny speaker. I think of my fatherwho couldn’t sing on key but knew how to listen who set the sparrows hopping on their wires when he whistled back to them.