Poetry / Stuart Barnes

Night Birds

for Michelle Cahill

Some evenings are this fragile. Rainbow lorikeets court
baroque chords creaking in my nest of bones. You wrote

to wrap my limbs. Morning will sprinkle the conifers,
Which of us abandoned the other? We cannot answer

with insect wings, serrated jacaranda. What colour is truth?
Some days we trust more than desire, trying to be true

Dawn cauterises the sky. The falconer retrieves
             with ropes and pulleys, plane trees

slip by, a clock ticks, the refrigerator drones
Robust and mechanical, the heart’s broken notes

territorial white. They are certain to hunger, to haunt
for the wind retreats, the swallows are in ecstatic flight.

© Stuart Barnes

A cento sourced from Michelle Cahill’s Night Birds (one line from each of the chapbook’s 12 poems: ‘How the Dusk Portions Time’, ‘Night Birds’, ‘Somewhere, a River’, ‘Five Sijo, for My Raider’, ‘Beauty Tips’, ‘Departures’, ‘Houbara’, ‘Storm in the Heart of Summer’, ‘Roses for Crianlarich’, ‘After’, ‘Swans’, ‘The Siege’). First published in fourW twenty-five, 2014

Photo by © Stuart Barnes

Photo by © Stuart Barnes

4 thoughts on “Night Birds

  1. Oh, Stuart! Truth must be the colour our hearts are serrated by Jacaranda. How sharp love makes things. Can’t move without a cut. This poem cuts my loaf heart. Pulls it warm out of this broken fridge body. And, Michelle Cahill, well she is the tantric hum of the thing itself, surprising, not fixable, full of cold cuts, what you crave, and light when there is no other. This poem is exquisite, a falcon who never knew rope.

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