Fieldfares by Lizzie Ballagher



A published novelist between 1984 and 1996 in North America, the UK, Australasia, Netherlands and Sweden (pen-name Elizabeth Gibson), Lizzie Ballagher now writes poetry rather than fiction. Her work has been featured in a variety of magazines and webzines: Nine Muses, Nitrogen House, the Ekphrastic Review, South-East Walker Magazine, Far East, and Poetry Space.  

 She lives in southern England, writing a blog at






























In a long-shadowed corner of this orchard

the farmer has emptied barrel-loads of fallen fruit;

my father might well have done the same—

I wish I could recall.

He was a blackcurrant farmer,

A man who also loved wild birds.


His keen spirit stalks us in the sharp wreckage

of winter prunings; in the branch boneyard

where cherry trees are skeletons of their summer selves;

where decomposing, dappled pears send out tendrils

of fragrance into frost-pinched, ice-pearled air

and snare the fieldfares as they pass.


Above our heads fat crab-apples hang:

jewels on the bulbous ropes of aged branches,

priceless rubies on a sapphire sky.

A single fieldfare rises, topaz speckled,

white underwings in chevrons, her back

gleaming garnets in the horizontal light.


She turns, flings skyward with her diamond beak aimed

unswerving at the apple sun.

The flock explodes—twelve, twenty, two hundred birds

all mocking frost on hoar-bleached branches;

all celebrating the farmer’s luscious gifts,

chuckling with glee over winter windfalls.



Lizzie Ballagher