Unearthly blue

The Starling


ARKive image ARK023113 - European starling


Hardly anyone has ever said,  Oh look, darling

at that stunningly beautful starling!” –

not because you aren’t beautful, especially when your irridescent feathers catch

the sun, but rather because anyone who has seen you snatch

nuts from the beaks of smaller birds at a feeding station

buffeting them with your wings as you fly off with screeches of elation;

or tried in vain to think clearly while you and your gang insult each other

from neighbouring roofs, finds that your hooligan character  smothers

your bodily charm; so not many say of you “My word!

Would you eyeball that elegant bird!”


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, on the other hand, supposed

you were intelligent, because a theme that he’d composed

three weeks before, you whistled back to him in perfect pitch.

He kept you as a pet and often listened to see if you would snitch

more of his best tunes. He was grieved when you died

and gave you an elaborate funeral. I’ve occasionally tried

to whistle to you, but you prefer to imitate the ring

of the neighbour’s mobile. Maybe I should sing?

Like Amadeus I consider you smart

in body and mind, in life and art.


9E105BA8-2AE3-4D35-A6E4-B1A20E8BE318But once, when I was a boy, I inched

up to your treehole nest to find what could be pinched

while you and your partner scolded from a branch

alternately leaving it to launch

yourselves at my face, as I pulled aside the screening

leaves to look into your woven nest, leaning

over the five eggs of palest blue you’d laid upon it.

Blue amidst the brown grass where you’d spun it

as if they’d blown here through some gap in spacetime

from some perfect world, some gracetime.


Yet these alien bits of beauty were filled with earthly beings

born featherless and blind whose shrill demanding squeakings

kept you on the wing for weeks, so that each might eat and drink

and grow into smart hooligans like you. Or me: a sly wink

from beyond that says we’re always close to causing bother

but not so far from something other.



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