I’m not owning that
one raven for sorrow.
I saw a single raven lurching
through a garden filled with sunset coloured
gnomes, both metal and concrete.
“Hail to The Morrigan,” I said,
as it flew away.
The Goddess reminding me
She is always on the wing,
stepping clawed and beaked
on the Earth,
keeping a black eye on my life.
She might be anger,
She is protection,
but sorrow is not
what we are about,
this Spring day.
Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads poetry blog has sent out the call to address ‘earth grief’ – some aspect of our planet’s struggle with pollution, over-population, climate change.
A Clashing Song
The orange and the cumquat trees must go.
Their trunks are slender compared to nearby gums;
only a few minutes to slice through with a chainsaw.
Spring fruit down the driveway into the gutter.
No one picks them up.
It takes longer to dig out the roots,
but the neighbours can’t have new growth
coming up through floorboards.
Not content with their two-storey house,
they are expanding the brick walls,
and the gardens must go.
Bigger rooms, larger windows,
with a high view to the Dandenong Ranges,
and a huge satellite dish stand
to replace the disused greenhouse.
An older house with comfortable 70’s angles
getting a facelift,
and looking plastic and new,
A raven caws at the man installing the satellite dish.
He doesn’t hear, for his ear buds are singing him
a clashing song.
Oranges roll down the road,
and are squashed by cars.
The air smells of citrus
and brick dust.
I saw a fat magpie, strut-waddling on the lawn of Vermont South Special School. They were an adult, with bright white and shiny black plumage. Their bum was doing an admirable Egyptian Walk (belly dance reference), or possibly a 3/4 up-shimmy, as they unhurriedly walked away from me.
I remark on this because it’s nesting season here in Australia for the magpies, and thus, it’s swooping season. Now, this one was very fat indeed, and on their own. So, either they are foraging for themselves, or foraging for themselves and a mate. If the latter, they haven’t yet been worn to slimness by having to provide for a whole family. There was no swooping, or running at me, so I can only presume their nest isn’t close by.
I wish you well on this cool, damp Spring day, fat magpie. May you find many worms, snails, and whatever else you eat, and be well able to leave the scraps humans throw out.
That encounter was on my way to the shops to buy corn chips. On the way back, just as I turned into my driveway, two ravens flew overhead, cawing. My ex-housemate, a follower of Odin, would have looked up and said: “What do you two, want?” referring to them as Hugin and Munin, the two crows who fly over the world, and act as Odin’s eyes.
I thought that, but I also have associations with the Morrigan.
Whichever the case, I bowed slightly, and muttered a ‘blessings be upon you’. You just never know when Odin is watching, or the Morrigan.
I like to think I’m fauna-aware, but this evening taught me that I’m not as clever as I think I am.
I sometimes think I’m the last person in my neighbourhood who actually hears the world. Everyone else has ear buds in, or is yapping on their phone. I hear lorikeets, and kookaburras, noisy mynas, indian mynas, and those carry-on cockatoos who fly around in huge gangs.
I know the distinct meows of several neighbourhood cats who are not mine, and can distinguish between the beaten up ginger down Hawthorn Road from the crazily-affectionate tabby in Dianne Court.
I sometimes wonder what our next generation of poets will write about: the heat of their cell phone as it heats up in their hand; the joy of choosing exactly the right ring tone; what they were scrolling through when their partner proposed to them?
So, I stride around, thinking I’m pretty darned retro, what with my active listening, and noticing the world. And then, an owl pellet drops on my coat as I’m walking home. I didn’t know there are owls in Vermont South. Logically, there must be some, because owls, although rarely seen, are in most urban and suburban settings.
Splat! The owl pellet dropped onto my coat, then rolled down, down, plop, to the ground. Still wet. Looked to be fur and bones from a mouse. Ick. On my coat. I was suddenly glad it was raining. (It didn’t rain enough. I wiped my coat down when I got home.)
I looked up. Nothing to be seen. The owl either blended perfectly with the tree above me, or had coughed up on the wing, and was silently gone into the coming night.
A quick google search and I’m on the Royal Botanic Gardens website, for suggestions as to which owl might have blessed my coat. A powerful owl certainly regurgitate bones and fur. A southern boobook maybe? A small owl though, and no mention of upchucking. Powerful owls are more common, though, so I’m assuming that one of those thoughtfully delivered mousie.
Despite me instantly wanting to wash my coat(too cold and damp to have it dry properly, so it will have to wait until Spring), I’m happy to know that my area can support owls. And that a whole life is going on around me that I know little about.
Off to do some owl research. Good night.
I’ve heard it said that the first reaction you have to anything is what you’ve been taught to think, and your second, more considered reaction is what you’ve taught yourself to think.
This morning, on my way out of Bellbird Dell, and an hour’s walk, I saw a white-headed magpie on someone’s front lawn. Standard in every other way as an Australian magpie, but with a white head, and a few grey spotty markings. It was happily pecking away at the grass, foraging for insects.
My first thought was ‘that’s not right’. It’s a genetic defect, a variation on what my brain says is ‘correct magpie’. It could be this magpie has a hard time finding a mate, because its plumage is not sending the right signals. That said, there was another maggie, a bog-standard one, nearby and foraging as well. It’s nearly nesting season for magpies, so it could be they are a mated couple, getting nest-ready.
Or maybe not.
My second reaction was: “Fuck it, you do you, little maggie. Be purple if you want.”
I’ve had a lot of training in this more liberal attitude over the years. I have an adult offspring who sports moderate autism, a mild intellectual impairment, a hearing impairment(like their sister), is non-verbal, has identified as ‘girl’ and ‘mermaid’ from an early age(well, first they were a train, then a turtle, then Gamera, then Godzilla, then Ash from ‘Pokemon’, and now, when asked to draw themselves, draws a yellow and blue mermaid), and has come out, as far as they have been able to, as gay.
They don’t give off the right body language. They don’t speak any known language. They still play with Thomas the Tank Engine, plush dinosaurs and snakes, Duplo and Lego, and have an enormous collection of dvds, ranging from ‘Paw Patrol’ up to some pretty weird anime.
Their unusual body language, and lack of speech has troubled both of their young nephews, and is currently troubling the 2 year old niece. She rears back in my arms when her uncle is around. Both the boys have done their assessment of their uncle, and implicitly understand now that they are always up for a game, and will watch ‘Paw Patrol’ with them, and their body language is odd, but hey, they are still good.
My granddaughter is still in assessment mode.
I figure nature must have a use for the white-headed magpie, and must have a use for my offspring. So, you be purple if you want to be, magpie. And you be a mermaid if you want, offspring. I’ll be over here, being a grandmother witch yogini belly dancer writer.