The Courtyard

My daughter noticed
(Weeks ago)
That the magpies here
Are very fat.

This afternoon,
Between paragraphs
(Well, after the realisation
That I wrote down
The wrong page number
And ranted
‘Who the hell is Harrison?
I can’t find the letter!’
And skulked out
To the Social Sciences Courtyard)
I stood beneath the flowering tree
The russet-salmon pendants
With fatted bees bumbling among them
The bulbous trunk
Whispering to me
That I could write
That it would be ok
That I am part of the long story
That I belong.

Walking back,
I saw hollowed green walnuts
Scattered across the path
A pile, swept aside
A sign of industry and resignation
And wondered if perhaps
In the night
Rats chew them.

I went to leave
But the flower-tree called to me
And I turned back and stood on the grass.
Shells and kernels speckled my shoulders
My gaze rose to the sulfur-crested dissident
Quietly chewing through the full, young crop
And I thought, ‘Ah: even the loudest voices
Come here and are stilled.’

I knew, then,
That the silent rhythms of this place
Fatten magpies
And build wonder
In the woman my daughter will become.


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