for the birds

white swan; black duck

Although the afternoon was dull and drear, this morning there was bright sunshine and it felt like spring. So, camera in hand, I went for a walk in the park.

There weren’t many spring flowers, or buds on the trees, but there were lots of dogs and their owners, dozens of gulls on the football pitch, three or four fishermen by the river, and several families feeding the ducks.

Looking back at the pictures I took, I was reminded that it isn’t only plants that are signs of spring. I wrote this poem many years ago, when I lived south of the river in Madrid.

what is this life…?

Running with the grey herd: midway
across the Manzanares bridge, I stop, 

attention snagged on the ess 

of a cormorant’s neck and held 

in the cape of her mate’s spread wings. 


I reach the city side, then, 

clear above the fogging metal roar, 

the first green parakeet of spring 

squawks my gaze skywards.

Today there were no parakeets and nothing very special in the way of avian life, although there were three mute swans – two adults and one which, although full-sized, still had the brownish plumage and grey beak of a juvenile.

swan's wing

The sunlight shone through the clean white feathers of the adults and I feel I have an excuse to repost this old poem:

Swansong

When I iron the white cotton shirts, slide creases
from collar, cuff and tail, I weigh the heft and fullness
of a changing power.

The dragon noses mother of pearl, and her hot breath
insinuates the twisted threads which swell
and straighten as she sighs.

My mind spins graveyard nettles, and I
am the sister of swans, accused, condemned and bound
in silence, intent on my task.

Each sleeve, a spread wing, offers hope.

Then he dons the white shirt, puts on
the power suit and quiet socks; he knots a careful tie
and slips his feet into immaculate brogues.

I would be Leda to his Jove.

swan's wing

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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