Kerry Darbishire, songwriter and poet, grew up in the Lake District where she continues to live, find inspiration and write in a wild area of Cumbria. Her poems have appeared widely in anthologies and magazines and have won or been listed in several competitions, including the Bridport shortlist 2017, and the 2018 PBS Mslexia Poetry Competition. Her first poetry collection, A Lift of Wings, was published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams. A biography, Kay’s Ark, the story of her mother, was published in 2016 by Handstand Press. www.handstandpress.net.
Her second poetry collection, Sweet on my Tongue, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018 and is a finalist in the Cumbria Culture Awards 2019. Kerry co-edited the new Handstand Press Cumbrian Poetry Anthology, This Place I know, and is currently working on a pamphlet and a new full collection.
A Winter Gift
If the eggs didn’t nudge each other
in the blood-warm bucket of water and they floated
to the top, we took them out. I watched twelve
out of fourteen fidget then sink like mint-white pebbles.
That first January
our present of two geese and a gander
from a farm on the coast, panicked over hedges –
flapped their new wings into Peter’s field
as if migrating until we caught them
and they softened like air in our hands.
Amber beaks clattered, sapphire eyes pinned
the beginning of a story we hugged into a shed
of fresh straw. Henry, Gertie and Lucy discovered the river,
bagged the best lawns and on Valentine’s day,
slipped moonshine eggs like secrets into caskets of down.
Henry became a queens’ guard outside the sanctuary –
dressed in hissing armour, neck to the ground
patrolling inside to tuck in loose straw and roll back runaways
before they cooled. For twenty eight days they processed
to the river to drink, dampen breast feathers,
tend their caches while we prayed for no thunder to addle,
no drought and no hungry foxes. Come early May
our garden rolled in yellow like curls of butter over green plates.
Our years of scattering grain, opening and closing
their warm mornings and frosty nights slowed
until all they could do was trust and warn us of strangers.
Now in silence, grass grows undisturbed – even the river
seems less useful and my cakes are pale. On winter nights
I reach into the cupboard inside a dark box tissue-soft
and unwrap blown undecorated Fabergé.