Diane Fahey’s The Wing Collection: New & Selected Poems
was published by Puncher & Wattmann in 2011, and was short-listed for
the John Bray Poetry Prize in the Adelaide Festival of Arts Awards,
Diane has been selected for Australian Poetry’s Tour of Ireland in 2013.
Four Black-Winged Stilts
At the Barwon Estuary
As if linked by elastic thread, they lift,
trace a soundless arc across the river–
botanical, somehow, with their tapering
leaf-wings, their stem-legs. They forage
then rise as one again, drift through adverse
winds back to their spot in the shallows,
touching down at the same instant.
Stilt hatchlings – brown-flecked heads and wings
sturdy legs half their height, fine bills a pointer
of things to come – are most easily found
in field guides, a dab of light in each inky eye.
Their future is to frequent marshlands,
make brisk forays across the water –
sometimes, with soul mates in triplicate.
In a troupe they arrive one misty day
to give a musical tirade upon
the cherry plum’s bare boughs.
The lilt of their speech evokes the cries
of children at play – piercing, tremulous
– and those of ancient scolds shrilling
what’s what in no uncertain terms.
The primary force of yellow and red
is finessed by the gold-edged black lace
down their backs: such solid apparitions
they leave after-images in the air;
their speech, as I later recall it,
marked by swoops and lifts so giddily swift
they could only be voiced by those who fly.