I took the ten-twenty into town today.
Walked the promenade. The market.
The busiest the place has been in years
and I felt lonely. I left
to drink coffee by the canal,
decided to feed the ducks.
A whole afternoon went,
tossing them crumbs, freckling
the still water with bread.
Trying – to ignite a night sky
with bright stars in that black
thick of peat. Those ducks pecked
at each morsel, dipped their heads,
came out, and shook off the water.
Before, I nearly bought a beer
for the man who sits outside
the post office. I would have spent
a whole day listening to him sing
that he lost his father in a house fire,
and that he is not scared of death.
What is there to say
of the small plot
of my work?
It stands collected,
like a forest
of dumb giants.
to no exact.
Peeled bark, healed,
scabbed, roots upturned,
A few I left to grow
to see how tall
they could get
with no guidance.
But this is no way to live.
And so I’ll take an axe.
It is too often now
that I think how rare
the silent night, free
of wailing sirens,
lads kicking dustbins
down the road for fun.
How many of those meek few
who keep the silence in-
between? In chippies,
They know the fragility,
of quietness, those who
cup silence like an old
mouse, a downed sparrow,
and keep it close
to their chests.
After the war ended,
they celebrated here
for three days straight.
Sole prints and heel pinpoints
still mark the floor in wild
constellations of jazz and swing.
That night, seventy years later,
watching a moving mass of youth
dance to drum and bass, I saw it,
somewhere in the midst
of it all. The flash of wingtips,
the twirl of a petticoat,
like curtains closing on that
world of war when you danced
for love of life and nothing else.
We walked the farthest we could go
from cars and houses and factories
and grey clouds and rising smoke
to a field, boxed in bush, laid a perfect green.
In our new habit, a fresh routine, we sat
huddled in a copse, breathed in with our eyes closed
this quiet place of untouched, uncaged air
of an unbroken world, untapped and remote,
with not a soul to see for miles and miles.
But I could still hear it, working at the crooks
and cracks of my mind: the harsh waves,
their foam and welter against the rock,
fierce at the build thousands of years old.
It takes a while, I know, but it’s eroding away,
carrying grain and granule in each relentless wave.
A disperse of feathers spiralled to the carpet
as the pigeon flew from one side
of the living room to the other, trying to find an exit.
To the bookcase, to the mirror,
to the picture frame, failing to find the gap
in the window from whence it came.
No blanket we threw or bin bag we swept
could swallow the bird, beating fast
as the shadows closed upon it’s head.
out from beneath
And so we began to eliminate the light.
Switch off the lamp, the computer screen,
cloak the mirror, kill the television.
Allow only sunlight to spread through,
to runway the carpet to the window.
Shut the door.
The muffled applause of fluttering wings
grew distant as the pigeon was drawn to the afternoon sun
and the warmth that came with it.
I’m not quite sure what cage has captured you,
or what trouble has shrouded your mind,
but I’ve seen sometimes it’s only in the darkness
that we can see the guiding light.
A thank you to The Drabble for sharing Starlings and to the kind readers.