The Year We Married Birds

by Liz Berry

The Year We Married Birds

That year, with men turning thirty

still refusing to fly the nest,

we married birds instead.


Migrating snow buntings

swept into offices in the city,

took flocks of girls for Highland weddings.


Magpies smashed jewellers’ windows,

kites hovered above bridal shops,

a pigeon in Trafalgar Square learnt to kneel.


Sales of nesting boxes soared.

Soon cinemas were wild as woods in May

while restaurants served worms.


By June, a Russian kittiwake wed

the Minister’s daughter, gave her two

freckled eggs, a mansion on a cliff.


My own groom was a kingfisher:

enigmatic, bright. He gleamed in a metallic

turquoise suit, taught me about fishing


in the murky canal. We honeymooned

near the Wash, the saltmarshes

booming with courting bittern.


When I think of that year, I remember best

the fanning of his feathers

on my cheek, his white throat,


how every building, every street rang

with birdsong. How girls’ wedding dresses

lifted them into the trees like wings.

© Liz Berry