Thursday, 26 July 2012

Give Me a Red Breast and a Song by Theodore Best

Give Me a Red Breast and a Song

I have sung down branches
to their sticky booby-traps.
Near things with bald wings
felt serenaded.

I have sung by the roundabout
in the middle of the night.
The lamplight was lamplight.
Nobody told me.

I have sung in gardens at hoses.
I have noted the cold of the flat black grass.
They say I am a territorial beast.

I have eaten from a fat-ball
hanging on a cherry tree.
Through those squares of hard air
what was watching?

I have eaten the beetle
crawling on my lookout.
A green spot’s appeared there –
shiny, like a beetle.

I have eaten a white knotted worm.
I have learnt not to turn from the whisker-claw.
They say I am a territorial beast.

Sometimes things look at me
like we belong together.
Show me a red breast
not a soft beak.

Others throw sticks at me
or screech like the whisker-claw.
All this is usable
for a nest in the wind.

I have harried green rubber in flowerbeds.
I have wrestled the edges of silver.
They say I am a territorial beast.

Though I fear the wind stopping
and a death in the dead grass,
breast upward, head downward,
neck awry,

I know only this:
that my voice is as big
as the one bush it’s filled.
One song,

and all manner of life sees a nesting place.

UEA Creative Writing Anthology 2010: Poetry (Norwich: Egg Box Publishing, 2010), 10-1.