Liz Hall-Downs

( Australia )

from BFR, Winter 2003


Place: of Beauty (‘Euphoria’ 2002)


king parrot winged green and blue
and red of head, sitting
in the stringybark, calling
in his flock
he is master of colour
king of tweet, lord of song, 
a bright flash of brilliance
in the morning sun. 


frogmouth, sleeping in the grey
crook of casuarinas
wakes on dark and stalks
the bird feeder
for small rats and marsupials
-antechinus, melomys, 
or feather tailed glider
flown down for a feast. 
frogmouth, ancient nightjar
whose grey and brown stripes
hide against rough bark
whose nocturnal life creates
scream and squawk
predator of dark, glowing eyes
in my torchlight, bless this place
with your presence
this still spring night. 


blue wren, the most
promiscuous of birds, 
with twitching tail
and cheeks of sky
sits in the center of his harem
of industrious brown girls
who come and go
with sticks and burrs
to build in crazy lantana
a nest for spring’s harvest
of bright baby birds. 


she comes mornings
-red-necked wallaby, 
her pouch full of joey-
to feed on shoots of bladey grass, 
seeds of barbed wire
and kangaroo grass, 
hops down to waterhole
black tips of ears twitching
paws positioned for hiding
that small one she carries. 

but as she bends down to drink
a wayward head is emerging
for this day is too sunlit
for such cautiousness
joey leaps out to test
his wobbly legs, independence.

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