I can’t quite believe that we’re in May. Spring has sprung and the weeds in my garden are getting boisterous. There are birds everywhere: the blackbird and his brown wife, blue-tits, starlings, chaffinches, seagulls. We have put out a bird feeder which looks like a tall, thin umbrella stand. Two crows have been entertaining themselves by systematically removing the seed containers from the arms of the feeder and tipping them upside down, so the seed runs out. They are leaving them all over the lawn for us to refill, and as soon as we put them back, they do it again. It’s becoming a game for them. Clever sods. Ozzie is fascinated by this process. He has never seen crows do this before.
Speaking of crows and cats, another first: my collection, This Is Not A Rescue, has been published! I’m delighted with the book: Seren’s designers have produced a beautiful object. The cover design is from a painting by Karin Jurick called ‘The Bitz’, and was the perfect fit. We had a little trouble finding a suitable cover image – a couple fell through – but I think, actually, that they did so because this was the cover the book was meant to have.
This Is Not A Rescue can be found in various bookshops, from the Seren website, or bought directly from me (send me an email and I’ll be in touch. I’m going to set up a Paypal thingummybob in the next week or so. Or grab me at a reading).
When the dust has settled, I will write more about the process of putting together this book – from idea to pitch to editing to proofing – but for now, here’s an excerpt from my sequence about crows, which you can read in the book. If you fancy, you can also read this, in which I describe how I go about writing a poem.
Gifts from Crows (iv.)
One on each shoulder, at dawn and dusk,
my familiar shadows bring me tidings.
This week, a woman in a brown coat
put a gull out of its misery,
gathered its broken umbrella body
in her arms like a sleeping child
and walked home slowly.
They watched her bury him.
They chatter of pigeons squabbling,
how the seagull’s delicate rain-dance
brings up ground-held grubs,
the magpies bob like barristers,
the excitable table-manners of starlings,
the mating habits of ducks.
And a buzzard was sighted
not far from here, circling.
A raven was caged
until her feathers grew back.