After Kathryn O’ Driscoll
Wasn’t my heart a finch bird?
Wasn’t it the yellow-joy chirp overheard
on the dawn walk to work
–a reminder of the things in this life
that are delicate and made of more
than the hollow-boned expanses
between their filaments of cartilage?
These days I break over a disapproving glance,
forgotten change, the endless endlessness
of doing a little better every day.
But I remember when,
before his heart stopped, my father
and I used to sit on the flint wall
in the garden and listen to the gurgle
of wood pigeons he swore were eagles.
I raised an eyebrow; he snorted, smiled,
and told me he pitied the man who married me,
this great, wise queen to whom he offered his arm.
I took it and rose, stood on the wall’s flinty precipice
and under the glow of moonlight
I could almost see the feathers sprouting,
their glint of gold so bright against the garden
and my legs, wings, ready to kick off, to dive.
Joanna Nissel is a Brighton-based poet. She was the runner up for the 2018 New Poets Prize and has been published widely, including Tears in the Fence, The Fenland Reed, Eyeflash, and Atrium.