He kept watch outside the back door
from a skeleton forsythia choked
past hope by an alpha jasmine.
Buffed his beak on a knuckley twig,
flounced his tail, bounced down
onto the terrace for a wary recce.
Gran told tales of Celtic lore, of a blackbird’s
luck, how they augured weather,
death. In a clutch of days, he
wheedled a cranny in my heart. His
mystic whistles wooed me, swelled
my chest with an ache to shout out secrets.
When I hipped a basket
to the carousel, he flustered
back into the bush. I pegged out
socks, a tea towel, baby vest. His
onyx eyes, kohled with gold, reminded me
of you. Discovering
his taste for mealy worms, I bought
a tub, ripped off cardboard, bubble
wrap, prised open the lid, scattered
desiccated corpses. He scrutinised
my every move, his tail flick
the black fan flirt of a señorita.
He fluttered to the worms, bobbed
his head from side to side as if
negotiating traffic, gobbled.
A sparrow came. The blackbird
chased him off. The sparrow’s hen
risked a peck and scarpered. So did a wren.
He greets me now with a chuckle,
and a whirr of wings. When I
dribble out his feast, he quivers
on a flower pot, trumpets
a salute, swoops in to dine.
The forsythia is showing shoots.
I miss the wren.
Pratibha Castle’s award-winning debut pamphlet, A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Press) publishes May 2021. Highly commended in Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition, 2021, her work appears in many print and online journals including Agenda, Dreich, Honest Ulsterman, Blue Nib, Fragmented Voices. She broadcasts regularly on West Wilts Radio.