The Clipper Wing


A woodcut by Lionel Lindsay

August —
already by four it’s dark in the dining room;
the family is gone.
I am here with the redwood table
that snaggles the gloom in its dragon legs
and the formal, woodcut clipper wing

bird out of all season,
with eyes that withhold light
as if in a locket tooled not to spring,
and one hunching, brittle,
nightwatchman’s shoulder.

A tree re-begins
from the centre of the tree
leafing to its finger ends,
but the clipper wing, erratic,

while pigeons flap and settle like paper
semi-static in a breeze,
flies out from its frame, gliding stiff-necked under
the smooth bridge in my dream,
shocking the pigeons into scraps.

Clipper wing, I wish
you had never been cut;
but would fall back into that hand from which you came.

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