Gréagóir Ó Dúill

Dawn Birds

For Alfred J. Hitchcock

Night ebbs to a limewash lie, warm duvet of sleep and its memories
slip down to the floor.   Hooded crows rap my window
with imperious caw, with a hate I cannot fathom.   There is no reason in this.

I lie there, try to understand, put some parts together,
co-ordinate response –  catapult, poison, needles pushed in window frame –
all tried before (this is not their first campaign), all failing.

How can I hold to some semblance of my sanity as their smears
opaque my window with their slime – spit, faeces, semen –
or is it blood?   They go on some crow message in their smart black shirts,
leave me, failed scarecrow lying there,
checking  my responses, physical, emotional.

Then comes low, below my radar,
belling nightmare call –
the owl.

Wind moves in a golden harvest field,
each ear admits the sway, moves in slow swing.
Small cloud-shadows on the shining surface of the bay
a Prussian blue, the sea foams with remaindered lace;
Sky is not alive above the moving clouds
though vapour trails gash eastward
and the burnished sun goes west.

Distance driving on good roads,
your thigh in parallel some inches from my own,
your hand restless as I tend the wheel,
shift the gears.
Too long, and silence
stiffens like cloth unwashed.
Too much.

The road grows small and twists
through purple hills
around a bend;  then, attent on roadside fencepost, watchful,
a sparrowhawk at an angle from the transverse wire,
from the vertical.

I slow to stop, he looks at me through the screen, shows me how to fly.

Gréagóir Ó Dúill teaches contemporary Irish poetry in the University of Ulster, is a much-published poet in Irish with a recent  second collection in English – Outward and Return, (Doghouse).