She dips her bill in the rim of the sea.
Her beak is the ellipse
of a world much smaller
than that far section of the sea’s
circumference. A curve enough to calculate
the field’s circle and its heart
of eggs in the cold grass.
All day while I scythed my territory
out of nettles, laid claim to my cantref,
she has cut her share of sky. Her song bubbles
long as a plane trail from her savage mouth.
I clean the blade with newspaper. Dusk blurs
circle within circle till there’s nothing left
but the egg pulsing in the dark against her ribs.
For each of us the possessed space contracts
to the nest’s heat, the blood’s small cicuit.
by Gillian Clarke
from The Sundial (Gwasg Gomer, 1978)
Fun fact: A cantref was a medieval Welsh land division, particularly important in the administration of Welsh law.
You were a snow baby. We should’ve called you Eira. You were almost marooned in hospital: jaundiced face yellow as egg-yolk, clutched head the shape of a shell.
You grew to your name, Bethan, grew round. Your plum cheeks swelled to its sound.
And now in town you let the flakes settle in your long hair, saying ‘Ne’ mind. I like ’em there.’
I played you Ommadawn: layers of cloud frost, hail and sun climbing till that lightning moment when you were born.
Wrapped still throught frozen nights, layers of a nest taken from the strands of our house: broken violin string, discarded lace and strap of a watch you never wore.
Your dreams hatch and drift with feathers of the pillow-bird you believe in no more.
by Mike Jenkins
from Red Landscapes
Fun Fact: Mike Jenkins’ daughter is the Welsh politician Bethan Jenkins AM, (born 9 December 1981), who has represented the South Wales West Region for Plaid Cymru as a Member of the National Assembly for Wales since 2007.
When you stand on the tip of your nose,
keeping perfectly still,
while the birds build their nests twixt your toes,
as they certainly will,
speak kind and encouraging words,
don’t wiggle however it goes,
as you might inconvenience the birds
or scamble their eggs with your toes.
– by N. M. Bodecker