How to make a Chough: an Origami Poem – a poem by John Gallas


How to make a Chough: an Origami Poem

Begin quietly, and in the dark,
with a bird-base hatched at sea.

Do not be scrupulous as the steersman,
or neglectful like the moon.

Lift a little light from winter’s mew and strand,
and take up the wide, pitch-paper.

First, make the midnight plume
by folding ink and slate across the shore,

and then unfolding back with care
to where the steel-blue raincloud stands.

Next, the wings in shining helmet-crankles,
quartered-up around the flat, still-beating heart.

Then press softly with thumb and forefinger
along the prickling air, whose flying-line may be

the whisper of a cleaving eye,
the prow of a bloodied beak.

To make the skulking-cave,
take neap-lines from the tide

and crease them to the salt-cliff’s foot.
Stand this beside the water’s edge.

Set out your bird.
Darkness drifts down in folded lines to the sea.

How to make a Chough: an Origami Poem by John Gallas was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2018) judged by Derek Adams

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