Blink Once For Yes – Jane Burn

I am glad to hear their music – rejoice that they are not afraid to sing.

Jane Burn is a Pushcart and Forward Prize nominated poet. Her poems have appeared in many magazines, including The Rialto, Under The Radar, Iota Poetry and previous issues of Butcher’s Dog. Her work has also been included in anthologies from Seren, Smokestack, Fairacre Press and Emma Press. Her most recent successes include placing/shortlisting in The Wirral Festival, The Lord Whisky Sanctuary, Segora International and Yorkmix 2019 poetry competitions. She is associate editor at Culture Matters Press and is looking forward this year to the publication of her eighth book.  

Blink once for yes                                                                                             

The geese are returning. Winter through, I have waited 
to hear the discord of their song. They are the foundation 
of my days – each morning the thread of their flight 
is pulled across my eyes. Each night shuttles them back. 
I feel re-woven. I crave the sight of their bodies, plump

against a thin sky. When I see them, the creases of me settle, 
re-find their folds. I have missed them – hankered for the length 
of their throats. Goose Girl, watching her flock descending, 
splash of white upon their chins, feathers following the spring. 
I hook my fingers through my breeze-snarled crop –

no tumbled locks to offer them, no Conrad to ask 
for the strands. I am glad to hear their music – rejoice 
that they are not afraid to sing. New growth has broken 
the cold earth – the ice-melt has drained. It’s looking less
as if an apocalypse visited wrath on the land. The pyres

of deadwood, stacked by floods still lurk like trolls – 
wild garlic tongues their feet and soon, leaves will soothe 
the jagged gaps. The geese keep to the opposite side
of the river, safe from the road, spending time squabbling
over turf, renewing their vows, making their love. 

Their cacophony travels across in needles and pins, 
in rips and rends. Lir’s children glide past in quietdignity, 
hiss at the busy delight of Goosetown’s messy nests, 
turn their nostrils away from its paddled stink and raucous din. 
This is no place for angels. The geese will sit on chalky eggs, 

wait for hairline cracks, for the hatching of yellow goslings, 
tender as heartbreak, light as breath. They stitch their minds 
to their mothers, follow down the bank to ride theslipstream
as the water slips a V-shaped wave from her breast.
I’ll ask, next time their long-span opens overhead.

Are you glad to see me too? Blink once for yes. 
They mate for life, so ought to understand my faithful wait. 
When I found some snow-bleached bones, littered stiff
among a pair of wasted wings I said a prayer for them. 
Did you miss me? Blink twice for no.

Jane Burn, Consett, County Durham

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