Poem — Emma Neale

Fantail

 

I pin up fresh delicates in the morning’s raw green light;

their silks and satins flutter like bunting.

With an instant yes to their RSVP

a fantail jinks, flips, back-flirts, grapevines,

sashays and polkas at eye-height,

puffs up its face feathers, chitters,

leaps wire to wire on the clothesline,

teases hide and seek through the straps and lace,

prinks and preens,

with a fine, proud eye, scans me

from blue diamante hairclip

to Wet Shine Opal nail polish,

tosses his beak with a what’s this, 

call yourself a feminist,

mutton ponced up as lamington,

fancy that at your age!

 

Licketty-flit, it air-skates tipsy eights

towards the door and windows

that are all flung breezily open;

mid-twirl, pauses and almost wilts

 

so superstition grips me with its old frost

while it hovers at each threshold

as if listening to some deep instinct

that tells it whether

to ghost through each room

like smoke in a small, grey funereal plume.

 

But then, reprieve,

rationality breathes:

the bird with wolfish trills

turns for the sky,

and a strange, soft current stirs my skirt’s hem

as if death sighs, resigned for a moment,

settles its feathers

in its warm, ribbed nest of bone.

Emma Neale

 

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