This is not a poem about birds
Trees touch arcs over the track I choose, release a pother
of wings at my ingress. Skiffs of blossom settle, noiseless.
Their petal-weep aneles me – bride, married a moment
to bliss. I have come here to step myself solaced, stride
the kinks from my brain. The peace I seek is cut
by the grizzle of a dirt bike, scrambling the lower woods.
Engine fetor soaks the copse’s porous air. Someone bought
the fields between. They ploughed the footpaths – get off
my land. Planted barley. It has grown from ankle to knee
in a week. We ramblers have pressed the pathways back.
My little dog cries for joy, beautiful, cuckoo thing,
as she runs the trampled grid. The rider skids to face me,
machine growling beneath. He offers me the blank
of his goggles, fists the throttle, makes for cover.
I am alone. I am afraid. Our village, mapped in plot
by closely warded plot. Our park, cut into cubes.
Tennis court, five-a-side, bowling green, sandpit.
An aviary, flocked by tatterdemalion lags
clinging to wire, begging for bits of green – sad
little things, waiting to die above a floor of husks.
When they did, they weren’t replaced. Beyond this,
fences. A care home, walled off – one window open,
allowing the voice kept inside, out. Somebody bangs
on the glass. I don’t want to end up afraid of kids,
of being part of a world I no longer understand.
Further still, motorways, cat’s eyes, towns, rail tracks,
rivers, sea. Ships, nosing the lanes, full of oil. grain,
human beings. Make them a hell in Calais – burn it
down, hope history forgets. Clip your hedges, tut and close
your gates. We will be surpassed – fail to comprehend,
be overtaken by fears of age and decay. Will stiffen
and slow. Our eyes and ears will fade, our tongues parch
for tastes supermarkets no longer sell. Bladders will
weaken their hold on waste. Lungs will sag. Hearts will stop.
What we have guarded all these years and held so dear
will be ash and end. Gulls fly over bodies making starfish
on the waves. The day’s papers line bins as households close
their curtains on the night. The unborn sleep, unaware of this
portioned world, mouth their mother’s amnii, swallow her pool.
Won’t be born equal. This is not a poem about birds.
Jane Burn‘s poems have been featured in magazines such as The Rialto, Butcher’s Dog, Iota Poetry, And Other Poems, The Black Light Engine Room and many more, as well as anthologies from the Emma Press, Beautiful Dragons, Poetry Box and Kind of a Hurricane Press. She also established the poetry site The Fat Damsel.