AN ABSENCE OF STARLINGS


‘My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.’

Meditations In Time Of Civil War, W.B. Yeats

 

Each year, there would be two nests –

in the eaves at opposite corners

of our square house. We would hear them,

scratching in the gutters – and Danny,

the window cleaner, an ‘affable irregular’

of the black economy, at the door for his money,

would report on their progress

through the spring and the summer –

and remark on the bees floating in the rhododendron

by the porch. “They’re light with honey,” he would say,

“light with honey.”

 

This year, though there are still bees, for the first year in nearly

forty years there is an absence of starlings,

not a one. I remember long dead, street-wise, innocent Danny,

who liked his drink, and whose ladders were stolen

twice. I remember the teeming, imperious,

cacophonous roosts of starlings that choired

the big city nights, high in the dark.

I think of the well-lit streets – greedy,

internecine.

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by John Chapman - June 28th, 2012 at 15:32

    Last year but few Starlings: this year there are again many which is a joy to see and hear. Seconds after food is placed in the garden and the nesting Blackbirds have run around my feet to get “first pickings” the “bully boys” appear, swooping over the conifers in dramatic style and commencing their noisy, squabbling feeding routine. Just as suddenly, they are gone and the Sparrows, Dunnocks, Doves and Wood Pigeons appear to finish off the largess.

  2. #2 by Ian Craine - July 1st, 2012 at 11:50

    Nice set of poems, David. I remember visiting London in the 1960s and observing the starlings in Trafalgar Square. A vast murmuration of the birds at dusk further darkening the sky above the rooftops of Northumberland Avenue. All gone now.

  3. #3 by John Chapman - July 9th, 2012 at 18:56

    The babies are now fledged and have joined the flock, which has grown enormously – similarly the sparrows, which had been seriously depleted. My feeding regime of currants, meal worms, bread and seed seems to have helped this year’s crop of healthy birds.

  4. #4 by David Selzer - July 10th, 2012 at 08:48

    Sparrows appear to be making a comeback everywhere – and besting robins for good pitches by sheer weight of numbers.

  5. #5 by Ashen Venema - May 27th, 2013 at 14:07

    … cacophonous roosts of starlings that choired
    the big city nights, high in the dark …

    Beautiful image.

    I cherish a memorable murmuration of starlings above the burned down Brighton peer, against a sunset, a few years ago.

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