Published in ‘Physick’ (2016)
Here is her nest,
his stem-and-glass pride
lacquered in spiderspun silk.
And here my trickster friend
flairs his cardsharp hand,
her geisha flutter of fan.
My friend the blithe tumbler
snaps up midges on the stall
of his mad jinking flight.
She pipes on the rise,
this little reed of song squeaked out
as he dips and joggles down the creekline.
He is all tail to wag the bird,
and irrepressible – as random as amoeba.
She dances the jig of his light life.
I watch – I impossibly watch.
He is metaphor for distance,
for vast, evolutionary plotways.
In the grief of my time,
ironshod and slow,
I watch my cranky, delirious friend,
her weightless bounce,
his spinwheel progress,
the sauce in the spray of her tail.
I watch as he flips from sight.
It is impossible for the naked eye, even the experienced naked eye, to distinguish between the sexes of the marvellously erratic cranky fan’ (the grey fantail – so called, though it is a charcoal black). It is a favourite, irrepressibly cheery bird of my island bush.