Poem by Marion Hobday

Bird in Me

1.
Candle the shell of me, there’s
the fledgling trapped inside.
It took a long time to chip my way out.

I stretched my baby bird beak wide
to the world, featherless, ravenous, insatiable.

2.
You know you are turning into a bird when:
you think the view would be better higher up,
you’re attracted by feathers rather than clothes,
you stand on one leg and bathe in dust,
your skeleton becomes pneumatic, light,
you eat less, defy gravity.

3.
Here’s how they catch you –
lure you with whistles, a decoy and limed sticks.
One minute you’re gorging on grain
then blind and drowning
in a barrel of Armagnac.

The song of the ortolan contains the opening notes
of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

4.
Stand amongst Salicornia, waiting, silent,
another snipe hunt?

The courtship of snipe in wind
rushing through tail feathers,
a humming vibrato like a goat’s bleat.

Roast in the oven and baste with butter,
layer the breasts in bacon,
serve on toast, baked in a potato or over a bed of sea beans.

5.
Night, three blackbirds
circling her studio,
the next morning her children, drowned.

Blackbirds divide up their fledglings.

The male usually cares for his group
for longer than the female
who leaves hers early
to start another brood.

6.
Fairy Terns do not build a nest
but stick their eggs to a branch.
I suspect my parents were ostriches.

7.
I am a quail plucked and scalded,
a pigeon rising in a clap of semaphore.
I am a widowed swan, a captive albatross,
a canary down a mine, a goose honking an alarm,
a starling, as the year turns,
weaving a dance of murmiration.

I am no-one’s chick or hen or turtle dove
I am a chiffchaff calling out my own name.

Bird in Me by Marion Hobday was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2018) judged by Mandy Pannett.