25 September 2012

Tuesday Poem: Watching The Birds

An old woman in a bathchair
appears on the lawn
hair freshly combed
rug newly straightened.

Her attendants
move away
two hours future-proofed.

She is watching the birds
the impudent birds
blackbird, thrush

looking for bread
raven, crow
tugging at rings

grey warbler
trying to perch.

The old woman
stares straight ahead
eyes wide in delight

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.


Claire Beynon said...

Thanks, Tim - I especially love the line 'And old woman. The insolent birds.'

You're being a great advocate on behalf of our Takahe - a favourite bird to me, too ; )

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Claire. I'm up against the big battalions in advocating for the Takahe, so your support is most welcome!

Claire Beynon said...

'an' old woman (apologies - tippy fingers)

Helen Lowe said...

This is a new one for me, Tim, but I enjoyed it.

Penelope said...

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.

Elizabeth Welsh said...

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!

Helen McKinlay said...

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

Tim Jones said...

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!

Michelle Elvy said...

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.