“the bird keepers” by C. Murray


I know three places that they go,
and the birds wait in congregation
on pitched roof, tottering lamp-post
in the tree-chorals. They wait mute,

gull and urban-pigeon, rook, starling
wood-pigeon and magpie, all wait.
Sparrows await the later crumbs,
the blackbird desires garden-apples.

I saw a bird-keeper once.
With her bird-eye. Her empty bag,
her melt into the crowd anonymity.
I saw her just leave a squake of gulls

in her wake tearing at the good bread.
She directed her gaze onto me and
I thrilled with the recognition. Each day
at the right time she had walked to

a reach of grass at the four roads
opposite the park where herons. Her
bag later stuffed into her ordinary jacket
her streaked hair, her impassive gull-eye.

I lost her image in the crowd. Those others,
the bird-keepers of unlikely corners at
the meeting of roads, and roundabouts
carry a backpack, a trolley. One a man,

the other a woman. She is old now.
the bird-keepers is © C. Murray , first published in Skylight #47 2013


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