Our West-of-England Tumblers had caramel bars
on their feathers and smooth bald heads.
Their feathered feet fell soft where they landed
and the loft we built for them was as much a home
for me as it was for them. During rains, we all
watched a cloud-cluttered horizon. Those birds
warmed me so that I didn’t need a jacket.
They came close, perched unsteadily on my ankles,
took the occasional seed from my hand.
Thinking of them now, I remember the joy of naming them:
Gable & Lombard, Tracy & Hepburn,
George & Gracie, Louie & Keely.
How I impressed myself with telling which bird
was which. On sunny mornings, in the loft,
we opened the windowed perches
to watch them shoot straight up
to attack the sky, tumble 4 or 5 times
and then fly off over places unknown to us.
In the evenings they returned with bits of this
and that on their fanned feet.
I think of driving home from work in those days,
dusted with fumbles and failures and a few
here and there.
This is not just a story about birds of a feather;
it is about a quiet place with
murmuring winged things and warm bodies
seeking nothing more than each other.
“You mustn’t yell at them” said the woman
who sold us our first pair.
“They will fly off and never come back
if you do.”