Birds

by
March 2020, no. 419

Birds

by
March 2020, no. 419

Retired, my father
tells me things.
He saw, far out to sea,
a great Pacific gull,
hefty, hook-beaked,
hound a crow,
slim brushstroke of ink.
Then, from the saltbrush,
a shadow. A second crow,
                arrowing in fast – in my father’s voice
the thrill of the rescue rising –
you could not tell
if they were even friends, or it were just
a question of iron martial honour
                that crow
always fights for crow.

When I am old,
I will have no children to tell
what he did to me. Did you know
a man can pick a child up
                by the head? I think
we are born with an honour
that means we cannot know that
                till we do.

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