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Cronies of the nudge and wink


Corellas at Dunkeld

From our distance we saw the Corellas
hanging like a hospital's washing
in the tenements of a large Redgum,
and heard them crooning the scandals of the day
each blushing mildly,
cronies of the nudge and the wink,
one watchful bird rose on a whim
drawing with him a thousand companions,
and they swung boisterously up,
then broke into raucous quorums
in a vast drunken carousel,
bringing and taking tidings,
gathering and breaking apart,
seeding the skies with gossip.

And the elect among them
rose on their high sabbaticals
until they all disappeared
beyond the sneak of their horizons,
but still haunting the evening
as a migraine staggers light
at the corners of the eyes.

with all the spanish majesty of a living Caravel,
coursed by the momentum of their thinking wings,
they soared as one in their din above us
lavish with the imperium of flight,
a great hush in the thunder of their passing.



Half-heard before the dawn
A stirring in the eaves
_____As they dither out of darkness into light:
_____A chorus of brooding thespians
_____Full of domestic threats
And feathered remonstrations.

But now, mid-morning,
At the pitch of the roof
Boisterous vaudevillians muttering their patter,
Before the curtain rises,
A royal audition of starlings.
Or, perhaps, more likely,
A police line up of criminal types,
Flashy suits with beaked fedoras
Whistling up wolves,
Clearing the static from their throats,
Tuning to the frequencies of Sing Sing —
Where they all have known associates.
Occasionally, a Caruso among them
Will rise in a moment of song,
Sweet melodic;
Stolen of course.


The wetlands at Laverton

See the wetlands where the ibis roost-
___Adjacent to the railway track —
Each rookery is a Lilliput
Where a single upright bird might stand
As tall as any Gulliver
In the quiet parishes of reeds.

When ibis move
They do so in rosters of fastidious steps
Each bird as polite as a grandad
Who is looking for the salt.
Their beaks are like locksmiths' tools,
And, it is rumoured, they are keepers of great secrets.
Stooped in twos or threes like patient skittles,
They whisper quiet inventories
Of silvered figments and storied frogs.
It is said that they have abdicated all temporal power
To a parliament of owls,
And in this they may be wise.

As I pass them in the train I fancy that
I might almost connect them with a series of clicks
To form a feathered pagoda
Or a hieroglyph that stands for 'sshhhh ...'
But, despite their show of gravitas,
I have seen them rise as one
From a distant field
As clean as a plague lifting
From the shires of ancient Egypt,
To take to the air
And cruise the highest altitudes,
To break and wander on their whims,
But always to return
And swoon in languid delible lines
And make of their silences
Those long and sacred vees. 

Grant Fraser headshotGrant Fraser is a lawyer, poet and filmmaker. His collection of poetry Some Conclusion in the Heart was published by Black Willow Press. His film Syllable to Sound was screened on ABC1. 

Topic tags: new australian poems, Grant Fraser, ibis, starlings, corellas



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Existing comments

Quite wonderful! An extraordinary freshness of imagination and a wonderful feel for the shape of a sentence and the building of a stanza. Made my morning.

Joe Castley | 14 May 2013  

delightful imagery: thank you

Kate Maclurcan | 14 May 2013  

This is exquisite writing. My heart jumped from line to line - and I'm still smiling!

Tessa McMahon | 17 May 2013  

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