such little birds
the colour of agates
fit in the palm of a hand
tiny in the limitless space
only the empty winds
or sometimes a solitary rider
crossing
ancient grasslands of the steppes

seed eaters
oceans of grasses
dun feathering
colours of dry grasses
safety from hawks
endlessly patrolling
the open sky
little birds the colour of agates
their chirp cuts the silence
chips the sky like crystal

west the forests stand
dark as any fairy tale
fierce beasts roam the shadows
thickets keep the sun at bay

slowly people come
fell trees build houses
and in the sunlit clearing
plant grasses for their grains
the ripe crops lure
the old steppe wanderers
they arrive and settle in
become neighbours
the free companions

of farms and villages

do they remember
the silent sky
emptiness of winds
over the old country
the distant steppes?

they cluster round
the settlements
little birds the colour of agates
at home in the village
thankful for crumbs

time passes cities grow
thousands, millions
people thronging
crowds packed tight
in streets, tenements,
myriad hosts of sparrows
happy in sooty London
pecked along the pavements
these sparrows were black
cockneys kept them in cages
bright songs for a grey day
their happy chirping
the sound of content

emblems of comfort and hope
carried over the oceans
links to homes far distant
from the New World, the Antipodes
such little birds
the colour of agates

 

fit in the palm of your hand

now here in my garden
domestic roses and marigolds
wallflowers and daisies
still these little birds
the colour of agates
chattering families
feasting on scattered seeds
and leftover crumbs

is there still memory
deep in their frail bones
in the bright courses
of their blood
of that vast and silent sky
the empty winds
at their beginnings
in that far country
the ancient steppes
of central asia?

© Emerald Roe

Peter Macrow,
Tasmanian Times Poetry Editor.
Tasmanian poets or those with a Tasmanian link are invited to send up to 5 poems which have not appeared previously in print or electronic media to:
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For the complete collection, click here: Poetry, Peter Macrow

Emerald Roe