When I first hear the small scratching
on the outside of my room, I think
there's a mouse inside the air conditioner,
or maybe just on top of the large unit.
The sound doesn't stop and I don't want
a mouse in the wall above my head
when the slats are large enough to escape
and they've grown stiff with disuse.
I step outside and circle the building
to stare at the unit for signs of life,
but only the butcherbird sits on the roof
watching me with unwavering intensity.
Then it moves, its claws scratching
along the metal ridges in the roof,
mimicking the noise of tiny rodent claws,
just above my room and its thin walls.
Later, as I lie on my bed, the door open
to a surprisingly warm and sunny
winter day, I notice a similar scratching
and look up to find the butcherbird
standing in the doorway, still steadfast
in its curiosity and silent fearlessness.