The Wagtail Tree


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

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