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.



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




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,


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

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