James Whyte, Birdsong in the Dusk

Walking Charlie

It’s like flying a kite, except I’m the kite
and Charlie’s flying me. From my owl’s eye,
he darts about like a mouse, snout in the dirt,
while I billow, stretched out at the end
of his tether, like an extended
metaphor. Above, Orion and the bull
are sketched in lumps of ice; they’ve been frozen
in that dance for aeons now. I imagine
the smell of dung and blood, hear the low
rumbling thunder of the bull, and glimpse
a flash of steel, till Charlie yelps to let
me know he’s here, going about his business
on the ground, pungent, earthed and all dog.

The Birds Singing

I was glad I had recorded for him the melancholy. — Patrick Kavanagh

The birds are fairly at it these mornings, you’d say,
and lick your lips as if the sound was honey
and you could taste each note.

Well, they’re clattering away full throttle again this morning
as I lie here in the dark wondering what you’d make
of all this dying.

I see you coming in from some unearthly milking parlour,
your face glowing like a boy’s, willing us to listen.
Where are you now, my father? And can you hear them still?

April 8th, 2020

Your Pink Scarf

For Rachel

Your pink scarf folded across a branch
on our road this morning.

You must have lost it when we walked
together at nightfall,

stopping to listen to a blackbird
singing high in the smoky trees.

You thought the trees were spooky
and when we crossed

into our own estate and saw
the yellow windows of our house,

you ran, your laughter rippling
and tinkling like birdsong in the dusk.

James Whyte is a teacher from the West of Ireland. His work has appeared in Skylight 47, New Roscommon Writing 2014-2018 (Roscommon County Council, 2018), HeadStuff, Crossways, and Pendemic.

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