There is a tree in our town
which every night fills
with a cloud of wagtails.
We stand in the cold air
and look up at the branches.
A hundred small bodies perch in silence:
fragile, wild, all facing the same way.
A chain of bulbs is strung around the tree
uplighting their pale breasts, long tails.
This when my mother lies sleeping through
her last Christmas; my life has a split screen
with her face and memories of past times,
hanging decorations, her hands
clipping a silver wagtail to a branch
…this was mine when I was small
and every evening, the birds come back
to roost, and every morning
there is life to be embraced.
by Rose Cook