Outside, the spring is under way,
that centre-stage fluent trajectory
of coloured backdrop
and curtain raise. It fills windows
everywhere and most particularly
the one behind which I stand
to observe the final claim
of winter on the land: the stone
that holds within its mineral shell
the remnant cold collected
from the last snow that fell
before warmth returned and forced
the chill to take its refuge like a bird
in hibernation, weathering
not the frost but the thaw that follows.
As occupant of this overlooking room
I have the task of keeping safe
this storehouse of a season
but am forbidden to either touch
or let it leave my sight.
If my attendance is successful
come autumn a spark will still remain
from which the ice might grow
and in its turn compel the vagrant heat
to find a hidden dwelling of its own.
We can hear her bird heart beating its life
deep in the cage of her chest. It is so loud
we suspect that it is trying to break free.
We give her stones to lay on the feathers
so the heart will remain where it belongs
but still it strains against her fragile breast
and so we fit a net across her open mouth
and keep a constant watch in case the bird
flies from its perch and rises to the light.
We are ready to clip its wings if we must.
We have stopped feeding it the dry seed
and every day now it grows a little calmer.
Ben Parker’s debut pamphlet was published by tall-lighthouse in 2012, and
shortlisted for the 2013 Michael Marks Award. He is currently poet-in-residence at The Museum of Royal Worcester. www.benparkerpoetry.co.uk