MIND, PSYCHE, SPIRIT
by Carol Ann Duffy
Then in the writers’ wood,
every bird with a name in the world
crowded the leafless trees,
took its turn to whistle or croak.
An owl grieved in an oak.
A magpie mocked. A rook
cursed from a sycamore.
The cormorant spoke:
below ill winds. Nothing swims.
A vast plastic soup, thousand miles
wide as long, of petroleum crap.
A bird of paradise wept in a willow.
The jewel of a hummingbird shrilled
on the air.
A stork shawled itself like a widow.
The gull said:
Where coral was red, now white, dead
under stunned waters.
The language of fish
cut out at the root.
Mute oceans. Oil like a gag
on the Gulf of Mexico.
A woodpecker heckled.
A vulture picked at its own breast.
Thrice from the cockerel, as ever.
The macaw squawked:
Nouns I know -
Rain. Forest. Fire. Ash.
Chainsaw. Cattle. Cocaine. Cash.
Squatters. Ranchers. Loggers. Looters.
A hawk swore.
A nightingale opened its throat
in a garbled quote.
A worm turned in the blackbird’s beak.
This from the crane:
What I saw - slow thaw
in permafrost broken terrain
of mud and lakes
peat broth seepage melt
A bat hung like a suicide.
Only a rasp of wings from the raven.
A heron was stone a robin blood
in the written wood.
So snow and darkness slowly fell
the eagle, history, in silhouette,
with the golden plover,
and the albatross
telling of Arctic ice
as the cold, hard moon calved from the earth.
◊ Carol Anne Duffy is the UK poet laureate.
Parliament is from her anthology The Bees.
Below she reads Premonitions from the same volume.
Publ. here 29.3.15