the talking bird

the talking bird
to Jack Le Baige
october 1989
edited december 2022

Blue-and-Yellow-Macaw
Maccaw parrot, with acknowledgements to Benjamint444 on commons.wikipedia.org for use of this image.

for years
you told the story
we’d already taken
well to heart,
fed like a cat
under the table
with our imaginings.

greymouth,
the tasman dark
with rain, the swell
skittering along
the shore.
the river mouth
could’ve been the
night you’d just
woken from.

you were running
for school
in the shower’s
edge, the drops
gaining heavier,
heavier on the
breeze, cloud
making away with
the hills over
the weatherboard
town.

you were passing
the gate, the white
porch set back
from the gouged road
when you heard it:
‘don’t get wet, jack!’
‘don’t get wet, jack!’
the parrot put out
on its stand on
the verandah,
a dream brought
fresh out into day.
colours, feathers
unlikely as jungle
or sailor’s story.
you kept running,
never forgot it.

sixty years of
breaking weathers
and thunder, that
rough country
you rode and
looked out over,
like storms
at sea, the
lay of a
man’s life,
you made it
in the end
without even walking.
carried on through
in your eye

to be with
that bird,
the miners’ hills,
the rain that
strips them
down
to gold

Copyright © 2022 Peter Le Baige. All Rights Reserved

Click on the link above to hear a reading of the poem.  The accompanying music is from ‘Träumerei’ from ‘Kinderszenen by  Robert Schumann, performed here by  Cesar Amaro in a transcription for guitar by Martin Borda Pagola.

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