The birds build nest from found objects
up in the eaves of my house
where I have no place to call a home
Fragile window-frames of splintered straws,
postcard door fluttering off its hinges.
I stack these pieces on top of each other,
ring the patio table in old newspapers,
and build myself something small, contained,
a space to fill up with just me
and leave no part abandoned.
When winter cracks against the garden,
steps up to the windows, climbs the brickwork,
I understand better why the birds all left
when the leaves turned gold.
These nests are skins for the shedding,
a stripping out of last year’s hide,
before the cold can come and take.
Tonight I’m writing for the DVersePoetics Prompt, where we’ve been asked to “write a poem in the first person that compares some trait of ours with something animal”, taking inspiration from Marjorie Saiser’s poem ‘The Print The Whales Make’.
The shock of it.
A feather brush among brittle spines,
and it’s body,
a weight unexpected from the straw
I am scattering from these hands.
twice over now,
from rafters, eaves,
hollows above these stables,
the last place this swift would know.
When I was younger and stayed with my grandparents on a regular basis, I used to help with mucking out the stables. I have such vivid memories of picking up a bale of straw, shaking it loose, and a dead bird tumbling out. My grandmother’s explanation was that the bird had died in the rafters and fallen into the bale. I’m not sure if that was actually how it ended up there, but it happened enough times that straw and hay bales have freaked me out slightly ever since. Not a great phobia for someone whose whole family has been involved in agriculture at some point or another. Today’s Quadrille prompt brought this memory bursting to the forefront, so despite my inability to so much as look at dead birds these days, I managed to work it into my response.
In less morbid news, happy International Women’s Day, and Women’s History Month! Over the weekend I posted a piece on Britain’s First Female Historian Catherine Macaulay. For those of you who know of Mary Wollstonecraft, Macaulay was a contemporary, and her ‘Letters On Education’ which call for equal education for girls and boys, predates Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’. While it’s not poetry, I would love to hear any thoughts anyone may have on the article as I’m now working on my third ‘Women In History’ piece which looks at the women of the Peasants Revolt in 1381.
Cut me off at the ankles or so you said,
stood astride my stump, saw grinned.
‘Not so pretty now are we’
either of us.
Spent the winter finding my roots,
you brought on your hot house girls
throwing out the deadheads
before they even had chance to wilt.
Spring freshened up all that toughening
from too many years the same.
Found new shoots moving upwards,
more bend, less bark to my bite.
Summer and I redecorated it all,
cloaked myself in colour,
announced my presence, my survival.
Dared you to try cutting me down again.