• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 05
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Keeping the Birds in the Air

It’s the eye – cupping my hand around each body,
as I cup my hands to form a tunnel
to mimic birdcall,
I lower my lips to each gaping eye and blow.

The bird is an animal of absence.
Take its ear – a hollow coiled inside its skull,
no surplus lobe –
the emptiness of talons with nothing gripped.

They don’t come to by blows,
a double blink, kick, able
stretch of wing. Rather the whole body thrills
they upright themselves and go.

Its their little cages that keep them distinct –
without them, nestled, embedded,
we’d watch a reverse transmigration of souls,
the tit, the starling absorbed into the blackbird.

Watching a bird litter an open field,
feathers in increasingly dense clumps, we see
the latent ugliness of things not in use – the wing
torn from a playground bird is horrific

but wholesale we get the real thing
a mirror to our own sleeping.
I am tired by my own efforts, to lift
each body close to my lips, then the livening,


Keeping the Birds in the Air

can only keep doing this so long.
When a bad juggler drops his beanbags
too many times, it gets tiresome. The flight
is dragged down by the weight, no illusion

transcends it. So, these bedded birds. In Czech
they eat the carp, its bony
flesh puts me in mind of this bird’s wings.
A costumier might mount them either side

of a helmet, like Mercury, a jeweller
take each beak for a stylus or quill.
The bird is quick, it is wrong to dissect the unfrozen omen,
its stillness unnerves us, no longer on the wing.