The Hidden Work of Birds

By Iljas Baker



They traverse the firmament

guided by the stars

and an inner power.


They bring us beauty and music

and signs

if we can read them.



Mid-day birdcall

sudden, loud, insistent

penetrates the kitchen

where I’m standing

pulling krapao leaves from their stems.


I’m startled.

Then I understand:


don’t lose your Self in thought.



Mixing the good fruit with the bad

is the only way to earn a living,

those market traders lie.


But the hoopoe says:

go directly to the orchard,

select only the good fruits

from the tree

and let the bad fruits fall

and rot.

Iljas Baker was born in Scotland and is a graduate of the universities of Strathclyde, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. He now lives in Nonthaburi, Thailand and teaches at Mahidol University International College in the Division of Social Science. He writes poems, essays and book reviews usually on Islamic themes.