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April 01st 2008 print

Andy Halksworth

Bird Nesting

He shinned up for the eggs
Lapwing starling jay
Blue speckled yellow
The infinite possibilities

We babbled from our gawping
Schoolboy mouths our faces
Huddled like eggs in a nest
Around the pole

Higher and higher he shinned
Village Icarus
His heroic love of eggs the fount
Of his knowledge of colour and form

As he raised his hand to feel
For the warmth of perfection
The potential of beauty
His hand caught the wire

And his body was transformed
Frozen in the shock of electricity
Transfigured in lightning
His eyes were ice-stars

As he went into a free-fall
Of stars and light and fire
Parachuted down
In a cloud of admiration

We stood huddled in nests of
Self-consolation the next day;
Hands in pockets, chewing on straw
Like our fathers chewed on cigarettes

We told the tales: his body was black
Shrivelled to half the size;
Each story believed like
Our fathers home from the war.

The women of the village dragged
His mother scratching at the grave
Scratching for the consolation
Of the perfection of eggs.

Andy Halksworth