Home is where it gets dark

My daughter and I swapped rooms.
Her bed is now in the big room and my mat in the small one.
She wanted the big room to spread out all her things.
I’m sleeping better in the little one because the walls are closer.

I made savoury rice in the large frypan.
I put the leftovers in the freezer for another day.
I watched Escape to the Country.
In the Mystery House the escapees loved the master bedroom’s view.

The brown-haired woman had a nest in the park on the woodchips against a fence.
There was a sleeping bag and a shopping trolley full of clothes.
She was always there asleep in the afternoons.
One time I tiptoed close and left my apple near her sleeping hair.

Yesterday I thought I might leave my banana but I didn’t.
The ground around her was strewn with clothing and packaging.
Today her trolley and bedding and body were gone.
There were bits of cloth on the woodchips. A tampon new in its plastic.

First published in Live Canon International Poetry Competition 2019 Anthology

Thirteen ways of looking at an unseen bird

In response to “Learning the Name” by Ursula K. Le Guin

Read its name in English, such as crow or Swainson’s thrush.
Read its name in Latin.
Look at a picture of a bird of its species and sex.
Write an equation to model its flocking behaviour.
Add its decaying nest to your collection.
Find its bones among black nightshades in the ruins of a harvested field.
Look at the bars on your window, the iron latch on your door.

Study the tree where you think it hides.
Close your eyes and count the shape of its song.
Transcribe its cry into dots and sticks on lines.
Look at your own ears.

Measure the lips of the day-white moon. Threads of sunlight hanging between blue hills. Your eye in a raindrop. The face of a gnat.

Stand under the tree until it shits on the sphere of your head.

From A coat of ashes.
“Learning the Name” is on p. 121 of Finding my Elegy: New and Selected Poems by Ursula K. Le Guin, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2010.