On the Edge of Angelic
They were fluttering grey, half down, half feather, and now are gone.
Who would prey on something so soft? We can only speculate.
It wasn’t a fox, though we have heard one marauding through the streets at night, making the vixens scream
and there is no sign of a body, no bloody-tipped pile of feathers.
The heron, omniscient god of the stump lake hasn't taken them either.
The gust through the trees sounds soothing - a hush to a crying child.
But how lethal the sharp blades of the iris leaves, how vulnerable their exposed gold heads.
No one knows where the cygnets have gone.
Who would commit this crime when the victims
are on the brink of angel white?
Everything, a man tells me, is sold on the dark web.
You’d get a good price for young swans.
A robin is in reach. I could scoop it up, if I wanted to,
and at my feet – a blackbird.
I can almost pluck the gold ring from its eyes.
Dad has been dead for a month
when we see the blackbird perched
on the roof of his shed.
How strange it looks
a glittering eye,
twisted in on themselves to form a black spiral
like a burnt conch shell, or a whirlpool .
We almost miss what lies in the bucket below
feathers flattened to a slick as if the water were a cat's tongue
licking it smooth.
One of us scoops the bird out of the water,
how light when dead.
By the time we have buried it
the adult bird is wearing his feathers like a funeral suit,
the wild, glittering eye has turned back to gold
and it is pulling a worm from the lawn.
I have been grieving, for weeks,
I barely brush my hair.
I walk round as if I didn't belong on earth
but somewhere below or above it.
How long, after loss
do we stand remote from the others,
half way between earth and sky
feathers dishevelled, eyes like jaundiced
moons, our loved ones in limbo
Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox ( Indigo Dreams) and Ghosting for Beginners ( Indigo Dreams). Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. She has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue. Anna's forthcoming book is called Feverfew (Due Indigo Dreams Summer 2020).