I TRIMMED AZALEAS with fervor
until the moment I stepped back
to assess my work
and a female cardinal
swooped down to an outside branch
on one of the bushes,
gave me a look,
then disappeared inside.
A minute later,
she sat atop
the nearby chain link fence,
consulting with a male cardinal.
Visions of Hitchcock arose.
I was more careful after that
to work gently, quickly to finish,
lightly raking cuttings from underneath
so as not to jostle the nursery within.
She watched the whole time
from the tip of a tree limb
and when I backed away for good,
worm in mouth.
She gave me the side eye again.
I bowed to her, a mother.
Photos taken 24 hours apart.