Two Poems

By Alison Milner

A Wing and a Prayer

Birds cluster in spring bunches
perching at the crowns of trees
while pale humans overwinter,
behind blank canvas windows.

Birds migrate, circling pandemics.
Descendants of dinosaurs
carrying wisdom in their quills
and wishbones in their bodies.

Birds weave air waves as they fly
linking continents and people,
bringing a whisper on wings
of death like feathers drifting.

Birds lay hope encased in shell
colours blue-speckled and pink
like pebbles washed on beaches
a promise the tide will turn.

Birds from Dubai with white bands
sent by sister in photos.
We tweet who do they play for
this team in rugby shirt hoops?

Birds domesticated scratch at soil
in brother’s hen friend video.
Dry earth flying as they cannot
poultry bred for food, not freedom.

Birds glossed black are fed by Dad
beaks bright daffodil yellow
pecking porridge oats and bread
from self-isolation supplies.

Bird song stretches a bunting
connecting us, semaphore signals
like the string telephones we made,
childhood fingers wrestling knots.

Only now we are not opening tins
these are stacked-up in towers
for future times of famine
we once knew followed pandemics.

Alphabet of Anxiety

A virus
breathes mortality
catches our uncertainty
darkens our mood
encapsulates our fears
freezes our smiles
grips our reality
hallucinates our dreams
illuminates our failings
jolts our complacency
knocks our confidence
locates our vulnerabilities
magnifies our fragility
narrows our existence
oppresses our minds
perforates our lives
quells our joy
ridicules our comfort
senses our worry
tangles our thoughts
usurps our plans
veils our perspective
warns our society
X-rays our culture
yanks our democracy
zones us in.

Writing during lockdown allowed me to continue breathing through the anxiety of living through a pandemic and the grief of losing my Mum from Covid. I spent many hours walking on the packhorse trails around my home which I know like the lifelines on the back of my hand. Words seeped from the stones, flew in the wind, settled around me like black crows perching.

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gila
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gila
4 months ago

I absolutely love the Alphabet of Anxiety, demonstrating how all encompassing the pandemic has been, as expressed by A-Z. Wonderful lively verbs throughout.

eamonn harvey
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eamonn harvey
4 months ago

2 very moving and sometimes disturbing poems.Impressive

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