By NIGEL WHEALE.
WE WORRY ABOUT the nestbox, as it swings from an eyehook
I could barely screw into the blue shed wall.
It rocks in the breeze, but then nests do sway in branches.
And it’s too close to the cat’s leap over the fence.
The fig tree hangs above it, bare yet in this late cold March.
A pair of blue-winged, yellow-breasted creatures, unearthly,
Flit down from among twigs and branches.
They check it out, the swaying box, they blur through the tree.
The male claws onto the circular hole, his head security-scanning
Full rate, mechanical as a cuckoo clock,
Checking the empty cube, nature’s threat all about him.
The female, slight as gender dimorphism, follows through.
They claim their nest.
During these first days of Lock-down, we enviously look upon
The free flight of birds. High above over Bedford, around 200 feet,
Two broad-winged buzzards circle, ancient battle scavengers,
Harassed by a crow for their carrion feed. Thirty thousand feet higher,
We see no con trails, the skies 9/11 clear again, and this,
The main air throughway Heathrow/NY. We see this our town
Below, flying out, flying home, in those former flying times.
So routine at 30,000 feet and 400 mph, on our second cocktail
In the serene cloudscape skies. Now the elegant hostess teams
Offer canapés, gowned and masked. As they say goodbye,
Wish you happy onward flight, they fever-gun you
As you step down upon this our English soil.
We are reduced to our dreams. These days stripped out,
Emptied of content, our nights take over in frantic, oneiric escape.
Techno color, flights over exotic townscapes, street markets
We can only dream of.
Day dreaming on the lounger in fitful sun, a single flight above, out bound,
A black purple crow, hugely carrion feral, crashes into the yard.
I’m background, it is scoping the nest box, checking it
With predator logic. Those 8-gram yellow-blue vulnerabilities.
Poet Hughes became corvid, hung out with a ‘murder’ of them,
So high in encephalization quotient.
I knew ravens in my cliff life. They raise me to my dreams.
I clean your lipstick from our glass
Ziggy sniffs around in perfect circles
Truffling for mushrooms
Neatly burnt into the grass
You demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make
You whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms
Faery rings drawn with night time symmetry
But then he is away after his ball,
Or sniffing up a likely pal, Ziggy busy
I leave your lipstick on my glass
Nigel Wheale is the author of Raw Skies: New and Selected Poems (Shearsman 2005) and The Six Strides of Freyfaxi (Oystercatcher 2010). His academic texts include The Postmodern Arts (Routledge 1995) and Writing & Society: Literacy, Print and Politics in Britain 1590-1660 (Routledge 1999). An archive of his work for the Fortnightly may be found here.