Bird

When I became a bird, Lord, nothing could not stop me.

 

               The air feathered

                                                as I knelt

by my open window for the charm –

                                              black on gold,

                                          last star of the dawn.

 

Singing, they came:    

                              throstles, jenny wrens,

jack squalors swinging their anchors through the clouds.

        

                   My heart beat like a wing.

 

I shed my nightdress to the drowning arms of the dark,

my shoes to the sun’s widening mouth.

 

                                      Bared,

   I found my bones hollowing to slender pipes,

            my shoulder blades tufting down.

                  I   spread    my flight-greedy arms

to watch my fingers jewelling like ten hummingbirds,

my feet callousing to knuckly claws.

              As my lips calcified to a hooked kiss

                     

silence

 

               then an exultation of larks filled the clouds

and, in my mother’s voice, chorused:

         Tek flight, chick, goo far fer the Winter.

 

So I left girlhood behind me like a blue egg

                                                        and stepped off

                                 from the window ledge.

 

How light I was 

 

as they lifted me up from Wren’s Nest

bore me over the edgelands of concrete and coal.

 

I saw my grandmother waving up from her fode,

                                looped

      the infant school and factory,

                       let the zephrs carry me       out to the coast.

 

Lunars I flew

 

                         battered and tuneless

 

       the storms turned me insideout like a fury,

there wasn’t one small part of my body didn’t bawl.

 

Until I felt it at last          the rush of squall thrilling my wing

                    and I knew my voice

was no longer words but song       black upon black.

 

I raised my throat to the wind

                                        and this is what I sang…

 

 

Black Country/Standard

charm/birdsong or dawn chorus

jack squalor/ swallow

fode/yard

© Liz Berry