He turns the crank which makes the bellows pump.
Air travels to the pipes. The barrel turns.
The pins and staples lift the wooden keys.
Now music plays, quick, high and flutingly.
You, poor bedraggled fool, are still and listen.
Your yellow head is tilted so, just so.
Your seed-like eyes remain uncurious.
Your little hook-feet clench around your perch.
Then, dutifully, you open your small bill
and churn the tune out, chirpingly, just so.
You sing, as if with feeling, ‘la petite chasse’.
Your feathers quiver with liquid vibrato,
your frail tongue trembling on those top notes,
your heartbeat visible through dirty plumage.
I didn’t begin as a way of letting the bones through
but the further I go the more they rise from the deep
furrows of flesh and I trace their shining lines,
mapping the sunken nuggets of their gold.
I grow an appetite for mouthfuls of air,
a bellyful of water, a head where the cosmos
whirls in its spangly nothing behind my eyes.
The taste on my lips is sweeter than honey or wine.
Kitty Coles’ poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies and have been nominated for the Forward Prize, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife (2017), was joint winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize. Her first collection, Visiting Hours, will be published in 2020 by The High Window. www.kittyrcoles.com