Edited by Dava Sobel

This poem wanted to rhapsodize about
the love song of the superb

lyrebird (his real name), who flares
tail and struts atop his display area, a stage

which he erects for his desired mate.
He mimics every bird (a few) of every species

(not even close) in fantastic vocalization
never before heard (true) in all of Australia

or the world—a mobbing throng of songbirds,
fricative squawks and trilling cries of panic

at the approach of a predator (frantic
wingbeats included). This poem ached

to swoon at the skill and ardor
laid at her passerine feet. But the liar

bird, it turns out, sings to deceive her
into thinking she cannot leave him because

she will be attacked instantly by a predator
(as she is), and as he mounts her, he covers

her eyes with a hood of his beating wings.