hunters have set lime on every branch,
put nets of mist across the evening sky
so birds that wheel the world each year and dance
the sun around, will pause to rest, and die.
The Wind is keening loss. He has no freight,
no featherweight to carry home to groves
where nightingales would wake him, sleeping late,
or larks rise singing praise to vine and rose.
The birds will turn to Wind and sigh his name:
Wing! Go! Their songs
are stone, their tongues are dry,
they fall from breath: each death a little game;
each singing heart is pinned and cannot fly .
The land lies shocked, brutalised by silence:
the loss of song itself, immense violence.
In Cyprus, limed sticks, mist-nets and semi-automatic rifles
are used to illegally hunt an estimated 20 million migrating birds
SELKIE ON LLEYN
At the sea's rim, pink thrift like twists of organdie
are stowed in crevices of rock, frail breaths
on slately rain-faced stones
that mark the island's tessellated edge.
Five fathoms down the seal has made her own territory,
returns each year to come up close
to Spring seasons like this: small flowers,
a mizzle rain that mists the distant gorse
to blurred fire and beads the turf with melted glass.
In sun, the seal's dim pool will clear to turquoise
and she'd glide within her salted towers
wearing siren leopardskin, green to match her eyes;
now her eyes are thoughtful, huge and black as emptiness.
The water roils around her turns, dark weaves
blue and shadow, make her hidden, liquid, near.
We watch each other. I am mirrored, fractured
falling from the sky to dive headlong beside her
as all around me, streams of silver air
pull tighter, slide along my skin a seal's kiss:
the world is water, cold and alien on my lips.
In all this space, only the seal's eyes are human, promising.
As I turn away the glass betrays me and I
slip, slide towards her and the waves
until my fingers catch on flowers, latch into the rock
then she swims towards me, makes me choose.
AND CHILDREN AT THE WELL
One woman has arranged feathers in wave after wave
pf small red birds descending her back,
placing tunes in her earrings. She hens a troop
of wind-babes, chicks as free as swansdown in the sun.
One mother has a pierced child pale as a moonslice
who engages the water like newness, her hands an hourglass:
Time stops the heart. Some of us fall into attitudes of prayer:
what we grieve is the fearsomeness of love.
Two girls are black lilies, tall wands, coronas on fire;
cold fear again: at how carelessly a hand could span
their flawless bellies; their skin is licked toffee, sweet maple.
How does their mother survive each day of danger and beauty?
A small girl circles the pool's shimmer, singsonging
her incessant foreign tongue. She knows her hands already,
presses her cold palm's kiss on our bodies: three chakras,
heart, throat, forehead. Her benediction is silver grace.
Below the brightness of the water's piccolo
below soprano chants and jubilation we listen
to the voice that wails and keens her daughter's loss, her song
broken rough as iron; black as molten tar, the tang of it:
all those silver children running past us fast as melting snow
The Mothers witness, and we sing, sing
that our daughters live: here, now, in this moment,
in the spark of each drop of water a girl flings into the sun.
DISCOVERING THE MIRACULOUS BODY AS A DRUM
What is a broken body in its chemicals and flesh?
What is a body that it knows the invisible
beyond its sequences of skin and sinew, beating heart
beyond its formula of genes and numbers underneath
the atavistic deep response to bonfires, frankincense
or one crow's wing held hard against the optic nerve
to better frame the myths of flying light
What is a body that it cries for death to come early
unless there is ease to its own impossible wholeness
- race and shape and flow and sex and awkwardness -
beyond the severed spine and broken nerve
beyond the petrified reality of sappy bones
heavy fruits of stone suspended from a slender spirit-tree
weak and strong as weeping willow
What is a body when it discovers itself as a drum
the world tuned to a new acoustic, centred in new space
What is a body that echoes, resonates, re-locates Ð
makes stereophonic initiation: a seedling sense pushing
out from breakage and decay. Raw at first, in discord
noise scrapes harsh, vibrates fire along the unknown tension
of a timbrel-skin inside the self and sometimes dins
tinnitus ringing through the lymph and blood as if
all arbitrary sound came now with a collected purpose:
to beat into the body, to strike this this this primal note -
insistent, purposeful, stridently, determinedly alive
What is the body beyond its sack and pieces, beyond
its secret, aching diffusion, its inchoate random knowledge?
What is a body in the music of its uncountable flame and angel?
© Rose Flint