The Friend of Birds

She was akin to them:
precise and bobbing in her movement
– a broken hip had lent her walk a mallard’s totter –
knitted plumage out-displayed the boldest drake.
They loved her for it
– or was it for the crusts she scattered on their pond?
Too numerous to fight for:
not for them the hiss of battle
but contented quacks and clatterings of beaks.

For ducks – and enterprising doves –
she was the fountain-head of bread;
at home, for tits and finches,
a cornucopia of seeds,
greeted with ecstatic twittering.
They would envelop her in feathers,
grant her, with their perching feet
an honorary bird-ness of her own.

Age made her more birdlike:
bones grew hollow;
sallow skin took on an eggshell mottle.
Deep within, a fatal flutter,
as of tiny wings, took hold:
fulfilling, in a way, her wish
to slip – as her small friends could do so easily –
the irksome bonds that tethered her to earth. 

Published in Pennine Ink