Lapwing

For her coterie’s pleasure, the Goddess of Feathers
Stretched in the leisurely fashion her diaphanously
Silk-draped forearm, down into a labourer’s skep
From willows and wishbone woven;

The women there wept as she salvaged an egg,
Languidly turned in an orbit the fleck-speckled dress,
Its fabric a grey-green calcium taffeta.
She immersed her fingers, palm, then wrist,

Like markers of time, a sundial’s teeth,
Her sleeve rolled up to her elbow,
And into the yolk it flowed from the lip of the shell
Of distraction. The women wailed old grievances,

Of men from the homesteads who went off to war
And who came back as bundles in hessian bags;
They yelled and beat their chests and the bird escaped
Into me. I flew out far across marshes, over

Mudflats diving and rising and dipping and gliding
In erratic spins, like a slightly drunk bride on a
Somewhat mild whim to enjoy the wedding of the one
She resents. They tattooed with their words

Seven ways to ward off lizards, sand-snakes,
The invidious whispers of Tupinambis.
The deceits, the tidings, a murder, a gulp,
We argue in gardens of dunes and grasses

Until threats to our season pass over.
This vernacular, retreating sea-worms and spiders
Recede to those feminine throats and the egg
Is re-sealed for the night; the Goddess is silent.

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