nthposition online magazine

Stork & Tell me something new


[ poetry - march 09 ]


The great auk? In Ornithology, past Mammalia -
the guard, suddenly awake on his tiny stool.

So many birds. I liked the birds best
though they weren't the thing to study if you came alone.

All species were paired, in naturalistic pose, forever;
banana-beaked choughs, the razorbills

and especially the hawfinches, buttery and pleased
as homebuyers on their ornamental reed.

What I felt, you couldn't find in feathers,
but in the isolate speck, dissolved among numbers-

or that old man who had no mate, the Marabou stork,
hunched on the knobbly stick of one leg.

Scorched bird, as if the savannah had grown wings;
meditative, bald, quietly hating everything.


Tell me something new

No one remembers the camels that turned up one day in April,
a procession of humps like a moving horizon.
They were led by a girl in a tee shirt
that came down to her knees.

In a town like this, it was as if saviours had arrived to magic
it out of recurrence and birdsong.
It was early, the tide was in.
Steam flared from their nostrils like hot tea.

Hooves crunched roadsalt, the tall girl smiled and her braces
caught the sun as it climbed between houses.
I waved to the girl to thank her
for the providence of camels, her beautiful braces.

Her braces sparkled emerald or raspberry, or perhaps she had none.
The tide at the time was quite possibly out.
Now I try and count the humps;
one, two. or even three.
I distinctly recall the notion of camels.
Yes, I am quite sure there were camels.