Friday, December 29, 2017

The wreath has wings

My Christmas wreath, studded with rosehips and orange berries from a neighbour's hedge, is moving and it has wings. Risenga calls me into the hall.

Through the glass of the front door, we make out a blackbird, unsteadily perched on the holly and evergreen branches I've wrapped around with ivy. It's come for the berries and every day it will come back until the wreath is bare.

Has it been a year of birds, any more than other years?

There were the countless mosaic birds of Ravenna and the birds on the TV aerial outside the Airbnb flat. There is the resident robin on the allotment and flights of goldfinches, endlessly busy wrens.

There are cormorants at the marina and today, a pair of pigeons crowding into an opening in the chalk on the undercliff.

A gang of sparrows keeps up its chatter between Liz's garden next door and in the shrubs around my bird bath, waiting in turn to drink and wash.

I've read some fine poems about birds. I have remembered birds on a hillside in South Africa and continue to be haunted by a bird I watched for hours on a beach in Sicily as it stood almost motionless, itself watching the horizon.

And each late afternoon, I seem to look out of the window at the exact time a group of starlings is heading to the pier for the daily murmuration before sleep.