That day, the thrushes finally fledged.
For weeks, I’d heard his whistled songs to her at dawn:
now-now, now-now, did-he-do-it, did-he-do-it,
then watched her plunge into the hedge, bringing grass,
roots and moss to purl with a busy beak. She stamped
the floor with tiny feet, fed the cup with mud and spit,
pressed her speckled belly to the curve
until it grew the contours of a bird.
As we sent out invitations to the feast,
she laid a clutch of brilliant turquoise eggs.
Day after day, she sat and hatched her bulge-eyed brood.
It was a wide-beaked time that wore her sad and thin.
I’d see them both, smashing snails against an anvil,
bearing wet meat to their young. Then June came.
As I stepped into my dress, mother fastened
silk-covered buttons with her crochet hook
and I watched the last chick totter at the nest’s lip,
held my breath while it fluttered, stretched, and flew.
I brought the lice-infested nest indoors to see
a tangle of your hair strung gold against the brown.
We have it still: her parting gift. It stinks—of food,
of flesh—this living mess, this coracle of scraps.
‘A Wedding’ was highly commended by Jacqueline Saphra in the Ver Poets’ competition and will be included in their anthology of winning poems.