The Bird on the Fence

The day of his funeral it rains;
not a storm, or a downpour,
but soft, incessant, misty rain,
like widow's tears, from dawn,
and afterwards the bath blossoms
with the dark, curled petals
of part furled umbrellas, that weep
softly down the pipes.

Two families, neighbours, church friends;
the mourners of a gentle life,
split in factions, to drink tea
and queue along the narrow hall
for sandwiches, quiche and boiled fruitcake.
Whilst we fill the kettle, refill cups
and move between the groups;
our mourning deferred until later.

At last, everyone else is gone.
The dishes washed and put away.
The leftovers being fussed over
by a handful of cheeky sparrows,
and we four sit and talk quietly
or think, in silence, until I notice
a strange intensity upon my sister's face
and ask what she is looking at.

'The bird on the fence.'
As one, we peer beneath the net
and our eyes are met by the vivid gold,
but slightly bewildered, gaze,
of a sparrow-hawk; his slate-grey feathers
fluffed against the rain;
his yellow talons curled
bright upon the wood.

No sign now of the cheeky sparrows.
We stare at him, and he stares back,
for ten full minutes; this wasn't quite
what he'd expected, being Adventist. 
Then he gives himself a shake
and disappears over the wet rooftops;
the soul of Man taken flight.
We wish him Godspeed,

And are comforted.

© Samantha Newbury 2005