Tuesday Poem: Watching The Birds

An old woman in a bathchair
appears on the lawn
hair freshly combed
rug newly straightened.
Her attendants
relieved
move away
two hours future-proofed.
She is watching the birds
the impudent birds
blackbird, thrush
sparrow
looking for bread
raven, crow
corvidae
tugging at rings
waxeye
fantail
grey warbler
trying to perch.
The old woman
stares straight ahead
eyes wide in delight
watching
roc
moa
elephant bird
vast as the house
she shared with her mother
when Father was gone to the war.
They push at her face with their beaks.
An old woman. The insolent birds.

Credit note: This poem was first published in my second poetry collection, All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens.

Tim says: There is something lacking from this poem: The Takahe, which I encourage you all to vote for as New Zealand’s Bird of the Year 2012

The Tuesday Poem: Can be found in all its multifarious magnificence on the Tuesday Poem blog.

9 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: Watching The Birds

  1. Gosh, you can be persistent as those 'impudent birds' in your advocacy for the takahe! Which, given the bird managed to survive years after everyone thought it was extinct, seems somehow appropriate.I admired this poem the first time I read it: does the woman really see back that far, to when those birds roamed? What is real, and how is memory different from imagination? A very lovely poem indeed,Tim.

  2. The detail that has gone in to the preparation for sitting down and watching the birds is so measured – hair combed, rug straightened, everything in order. It belies habit. It says to me: get yourself ready, presentable, organised; now: just sit down and watch. Loved it, loved it. Thanks, Tim!

  3. I agree with all the comments so farand particularly love the way the list of birds progresses to includethe elephant bird as large as her mother's house. The crossover between imagination and reality is so infinitesimal and you capture it beautifully here.

  4. Thanks, Helen L, Helen M, Penelope and Elizabeth.Some of the poems from my earlier collections stay in the forefront of my mind, particularly those I sometimes perform at readings. Others, like this one, I tend to forget about – so I was rather pleased to see it again myself!

  5. Glad you pulled this one out, Tim, and shared it! This is so lovely – all those birds and the images they bring to mind. Lovely the way you bring their insolence into this with the old woman.

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