I held the art of dying
in my hand today.
Her hurt wings folded in my loose fist
yielding as the fingers of a glove –
a swallow that dipped quick
trawling insects in the lane
clouted by some windscreen out of air
distilled into precision.
What flight meant
was the pulsing line of gorging and delight
that drew the smooth blur
of her x on air.
But look. All’s gone hard edge.
Swallows are taut arrangements
of black pins and scimitars.
Tailfins, wingtips and the tiny beak
are stanleyknifed to pinpoints.
The swooping black dart of her back
’s been startled off by stillness,
in these thumbsized shoulders
of intenser poison blue.
The forehead’s no black smudge
nor red either, quite,
but minute scumblings of rust.
Those legs that weren’t there when she flew
are clean black needles now
as there as sculpture,
and her claws
machines designed to clutch at straws.
When the world’s smacked loose from meaning
all’s knocked to fuss and artifice and pattern.
Your dying relatives in their beds
see your dentistry, the stitching on your shirt,
contemplate the thereness of their fingertips.
And her. Her eyes are big as black pinheads
clinical as an artist’s
amazed this suddenly to see the world,
its mad particularity
so sharp and quick with colour,
– Christopher Meredith
from The Meaning of Flight
Christopher Meredith is a Welsh poet and novelist. He has worked as a labourer in the steel industry, as a school teacher in Brecon, and is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glamorgan. His three poetry collections are This, (Poetry Wales Press, 1984), Snaring Heaven, (Seren, 1990) and The Meaning of Flight, (Seren, 2005). Visit his website here.
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