Bird (1st prize: 2012 Competition)

When I became a bird, Lord, nothing could not stop me.

 

The air feathered

as I knelt

by my open window for the charm –

black on gold,

last star of the dawn.

 

Singing, they came:

throstles, jenny wrens,

jack squalors swinging their anchors through the clouds.

 

My heart beat like a wing.

 

I shed my nightdress to the drowning arms of the dark,

my shoes to the sun’s widening mouth.

 

Bared,

I found my bones hollowing to slender pipes,

my shoulder blades tufting down.

I   spread    my flight-greedy arms

to watch my fingers jewelling like ten hummingbirds,

my feet callousing to knuckly claws.

As my lips calcified to a hooked kiss

 

silence

 

then an exultation of larks filled the clouds

and, in my mother’s voice, chorused:

 Tek flight, chick, goo far fer the Winter.

 

So I left girlhood behind me like a blue egg

and stepped off

from the window ledge.

 

How light I was

 

as they lifted me up from Wren’s Nest,

bore me over the edgelands of concrete and coal.

 

I saw my grandmother waving up from her fode,

looped

the infant school and factory,

let the zephyrs carry me      out to the coast.

 

Lunars I flew

battered and tuneless

 

the storms turned me insideout like a fury,

there wasn’t one small part of my body didn’t blart.

 

Until I felt it at last           the rush of squall thrilling my wing

and I knew my voice

was no longer words but song         black upon black.

 

I raised my throat to the wind

and this is what I sang…

 

 

Black Country – Standard

charm – birdsong or dawn chorus   throstle – thrush

jack squalor – swallow   fode – yard   blart – cry