I hear the ruckus, step outside, raised voices fill the sky
black angels in waves from the dunes, some from behind.
They stay airborne but unsteadily as if the air is agitated,
currents tugging each bird in all directions. The sky packs grey.
This morning swimming inside Shelley’s blues and greens,
The sea transparent to the sand and fish, I was floating
under the illusion the Earth breathed under a blue glass dome.
Some cloud is bruised blue with stone-white rags, not pigment,
but Turner’s sky, scraped back to the off-white wove
he often used, sometimes adding a soft touch of chalk.
Or is this Constable’s weather work? In the autumn he wrote
to his good friend, John Fisher, the Bishop of Salisbury,
‘I have done a good deal of skying’. More diligent than Turner
he noted the conditions on every cloud study. He called
the atmosphere, ‘the chief Organ of Sentiment’ in landscapes.
They land in the Blackbutts opposite where crows are nesting.
How to describe these cockatoos? Large, with large wings, yellow
tails and yellow cheeks. Elegant? No. Scruffy? Perhaps. And loud,
very loud and wise, they live for 80 years and mate for life. Unlike
the Glossies, they eat anything, but here they focus on Banksias.
They raid our garden for the big Swamp Banksia cones, sometimes
fly away with a seed pods clamped ins bills. They are nervous, one
always stands guard and they scream if a tiny Minor mobs them.
I am on speed dial ringing London, trouble with an online form
I need to gain entry next week, bureaucracy has been a pain all day.
Birds don’t have such hassles. I play Gould playing Goldberg (from
81), hear him humming until the trees convulse and the birds
wheel around as if uncertain, screeching and squealing
at rock concert volume, a weird accompaniment to Bach.
They head west in ragged bunches. There must be a hundred.
The last few are floating, just floating, being carried along.
His father, Bert, said young Glenn would hum instead of cry,
but what’s really strange is that he’s humming a different tune.
I can see him crouched over the piano on the old worn chair
his father made for him, low, light-weight, folding into flexible
positions. Glenn Gould and his chair were inseparable,
he used it for every concert and every recording session.
His fingers are dancing faster and faster. I wonder where they roost,
perhaps on Nunguu Mirral the sacred mountain just behind us?
I’m still pestering the number for UK GOV, continually engaged.
The black silhouettes sailed on but are stored in the memory
in a place where mysteries lie dormant, most of the time.
A Pied Butcherbird starts singing clear, clean powerful notes,
didn’t waste his breath before. I am trying to finish the poem
while still tapping the speed dial, proof men can multi-task.
A couple lagging flutter over, resisting silence at all costs.