Three British Birds

1.       The Buzzard
Buteo buteo buteo buteo oh beauty is truth
Truth beauty. But when I saw the soaring broad winged bird
Like a shadow set free
To investigate the sky ( and catch the sunlight in its mirrored eye)
I saw truth and beauty as
Icarus, a bird, a dark cloud
Too small to ever hide the sun
(remember, dad? The Brockenhurst buzzard that hung above the rails
and told us we were far from home. Home now, dad)
Oh, dark truth! Oh, dark beauty!  Oh, beauty shades the whiteness of the sky
Our lives are so much longer than the feathered sail!
But shorter
than your twisted fingernails

2.       The Yellowhammer
I asked God about yellowhammers
God did not reply. ( he never fucking listens, or replies. Otherwise
You would still be alive)
They eat the seeds of weeds and a little bit of bread
But no cheese. Insects, of course. I would think.
They always cop it, insects. The ecological whipping-boys
And that reminds me
No seriously, listen...
Remember how god turned your body
Into a caterpillar, then into a pine cocoon,
From which emerged an angel? Unseen by me
But the priest and all his surplus surpliced boys
Told me they had heard the rush of wings
Like an April breeze through blooming rape
In which the yellow headed bunting hides
And asks the maker for his daily bread
But please.
But please
But please
But please
No cheese.

I asked the book about yellowhammers
it said 

"The yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) is a passerine bird in the bunting family that is native to Eurasia"
I asked my father about yellowhammers
He said 'the song sounds like "a
Little bit of bread and no cheese
A little bit of bread and no
A little bit of bread and
A little bit of bread
A little bit of
A little bit
A little

Then winter came and froze his living words
Then spring came and the poplar trees caught fire
And winter's bodies buzzed with black-furred flies
Then summer came...

In memory of
You must hear this
About my father's death...
Think about it

How quiet it must be below the ground

3.       The Swallow
Did you ever sing the swallows on the telegraph wires?
See, the birds are the notes and the wires are the staves
Dee da dum dee dum dee!
Is the song they sing when they arrive
Fatless and afraid of frost
But dum de dum da dum da dee
Is the song they singly jingly sing
When, (come on, everybody sing these lines!)
When summer grinds its greenery to abrupt halt
The shed is closed for winter by a rusty bolt
When children sweep the flies from local reservoirs
And gloves and spades and ice scrapers are packed in cars
Grey frost begins to form upon the church clock's face
The orange sun dips low enough for birds to chase
Whereas the skyless humans simply watch it set
And curse the coming darkness and the winter wet.
But now the church is silent as the organist departs
He takes his hat. His hair is growing thin. As is the wind.
( I sort of hoped these words might just take flight
and fly to east  and west and  north and south
like insects in the mouths of flying birds
Dissolve and give the energy to chase
The sun that sets like a recurring dream
Behind the churchyard where your body rots
And feeds the larvae of the summer flies
That feed the clouds of summer flying birds
That wheel and bob like storm-tossed harbour boats
Upon a tempest sky in which there lives
The sun that sets like a recurring dream
Our own recurring dream, the summer sun.

     Stephen Meek 2014