Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sunday Poem

The seagull doesn’t like to be ignored, fans
out a white demi-bloom of tail, flies
breast to breast with the water gull below,
a show of sudden flight and reflected shadow

close or at a distance any eye that pans
this wake of flight is led to spaces
in trees where living branch meets dead;
below, spent cigarettes and blossoms, floating birdshit
and feathers where the willow trails its swimmer’s hair

these things are not what we’ve come for—what’s advertised
are peacocks, the more iridescently bright the better,
rhododendrons fuschia and puff-sleeved as bridesmaids
in procession and attended by fern fronds

more startling still, a short walk down the street—
ladies and gentlemen—scarlet ibis and flamingoes
under glass. In the land of the newlywed and nearly dead
everything’s arranged to please us

but not this misfit, this beautiful fan-tailed scavenger
who, more like us, eats garbage, makes from it ivory plumage,
tries to take over the world, calls out a raucous screed
on the subject of attention here where we’ve come to scavenge
an idea of the garden, cultivated in empire’s detritus

ah look, a lone duckling, an ageing romantic
clucks at the loss of mother but her man looks at his watch,
holds her elbow in a slingshot grip, says
don’t worry, honey, it’s nature 
and along the groomed trails we shuffle out, leave spaces so our tribes
don’t meet in unmediated ways until we reach the street
the lights, the flashing crosswalk man we’ve made
and technobirdsong that must be obeyed
frozen in the sudden open glare, the man
picks a fallen petal from his love’s hair,
the signals change, and we walk on in unison
sprouting shreds of blown down and errant pollen.
by Carmelita McGrath from The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry (Breakwater, 2013), edited by Mark Callanan and James Langer.
(Painting by Tamara Bond.)

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