Today's poem is by Medbh McGuckian

Birds, Women and Writing

What was my last gift to you, this slack heart,
This white gaze? Tell me the first token,
Brown berry or red river comb?

Do you remember that night on yon lean hill
When you and I were at the foot of the rowan
Tree, and the night was freezing?

We counted our days in nights, sorcerers, not
State animals. You twisted my tresses
To shoe my bare foot.

You made a pet out of a word-bird that landed
On your shoulder, a wasp-orchid, Irish-looking,
That flew out peacefully.

A higher wave erased it like a face drawn in sand
At the edge of the sea, and for a while
I no longer used the word,

Even though I adore it. Where the corner of the room
Curves down like a beak, you came over to walk
Between the open bay window,

Your deepest step shaded like ovaries perhaps
Against the heavens——as sometimes a child's presence
Will happen only later.

Leave now those windows, and close my hands not resting
Their blood-infused elbows reduced to write
A l'eau rose

Songs whose story is elsewhere, passing through the opposite
Of what is being approached, that
Will not end sweetly.

The churchish skyline when it is almost snow-covered
Will give the feeling of something being
Taken away:

A woman-chair, whose song of rubbed thoraxes
Calls to love, but makes the breath virginal
Again. She does not like

To sing me the last verses, with their meagre
Reassurance for suffering, no doubt accompanying us
The furthest along our way.

Copyright © 2006 Medbh McGuckian All rights reserved
from Columbia Poetry Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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