Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Encounter With A Blackbird

Once - while pruning orange trees,
snipping white wood
out of lime-green leaves -
I saw a cluster of dead twigs
and stepped up the ladder,
secateurs raised,
and there: a sleek head,
yellow beak, rivet eye.

That night I dreamt
she sat on silver foil
and not with eggs, but potatoes
warm and butter-slippery.
I turned them for her
and stuck them in a pan
to roast in an oven.
Can you eat your own dreams?

Cool before-dawn air slipped in
bringing an orange blossom breeze
and a limpid arpeggio of notes.
She had got into my dreams.
Had I into hers?

Mangling into myth
the shock of a giant
rearing out of nowhere,
moon-faced, stark-eyed,
jutting out a mandible
with sharp-cutting jaws,

The don't-move imperative
countering the instinct
to flee into safe sky
as her glossy-feathered
lineage chills
to lifeless shells.

Hunching over these words
like new-laid eggs,
hearing each whistled quaver
tumbling proudly
from the orange tree,
I listened like never before.

Her song called up the sun.
It tilted over the hill and rolled
blazing down the valley's slope,
and so I left my words
to fester in their nest,
and stepped onto the terrace
above the orange grove

crushed by the racket
of cars, vans and trucks,
clanking construction machinery,
the fevered rush of money
as it whistles from this
to that, and, scanning the trees,
remembered how,

once, our shared space
shrunk to levelled eyes,
astounded, fearful,
fighting and cowed
and then widened
to a respectable distance.

We were humbled, yet
full of the same pride
as when lovers meet, then part,
and will never meet again
and are wise.


This poem is part of the "Natural Causes" collection of poems with illustrations by Geoff MacEwan.

For more information, go to Poems and Etchings - Natural Causes.

Encounter With A Blackbird etching

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