I saw them once at Aberystwyth Pier,
before I knew what a murmuration was,
or even that they were starlings,
nevermind their Welsh name, or if they had one.
Again years later near the racecourse
as we walked by the canal.
Today they fly over your garden,
I was going to say like plumes of smoke
from your chiminea, then I see that
in fact it is smoke. When they come
in the other direction they are not camouflaged,
but like tea leaves in glass as the water’s poured,
or glitter in a snow globe.
It’s not their call you hear
but the flapping of their wings;
not the size of the flock that surprises,
but the birds themselves.
They call us sea parrots,
clowns of the sea. Yet we frown
like owls as we perch
on the cliff tops in spring, our beaks
newly orange like autumn leaves.
The Behaviour of the Birds
A duck sits still as a statue
in a city centre street,
a goose lays an egg
in the railway station.
A pigeon bangs against my window,
startles me less than a magpie
perched on a rooftop.
I forget to look away.
Even though the window’s shut
I still hear blackbirds chirp;
only the heron in the park
flies away when I try to take its photo.
All three poems by Peter Donnelly
Birds in the Garden
At first, it was one couple:
He with his bustle of storm clouds,
she a more demure gray, of doves maybe—
It was the doves that invited them, because
I was so generous with corn.
They tried to make children, and to hear her
cry at the broken nest
grief that echoes
And in the years where a yellow fluff would follow,
Such obvious humble pride.
the babies stay flightless fragile for months.
Every year, they reunite:
The sisters and cousins and
new babies fewer and fewer
years of food for them
Years of watching for yellow babies
of hearing the weeping
Until this winter
when I am chosen
Here is food
Here is a safe space
For you I have made this
This for you
Video and poem by Su Zi
Bio and Links
Peter J Donnelly
lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary. He has a degree in English Literature and a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales Lampeter. His poetry has been published in various magazines and anthologies including Dreich, High Window, Southlight, Black Nore Review, Obsessed with Pipework, One Hand Clapping and Ink, Sweat and Tears. He won second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival competition in 2021 and was a joint runner up in the Buzzwords open poetry competition in 2020.