This book about extinct birds is heavier than any bird:
heavier than the dark bird eating my heart,
page after page of abandoned wings.
I lift it up and sit it on my lap
and listen to it purring.
Children are building their teacher a coffin.
There it is in the paper, somewhere in Holland,
a good plain coffin made of many parts,
and two of the children
call each day and talk to the teacher
to keep the teacher posted. Is she happy?
She is ill but quite contented.
What will they give her to take with her
into the earth at last, or across those borders
where only teachers travel? There is dark energy there
and multiplication tables, and many children are in a room
with chisels and planes and spirit levels.
They must be making something wonderful.
Everything needs to be straight.
I made a boat, a tie-rack, a wooden spoon.
The boat sat on a mantlepiece in several different houses.
It was happy with its yellow funnel,
somewhere it is sailing. And everywhere children
are waving and working hard.
They are building their teacher a coffin.
The Terrible Singers
The boy and the girl sing to each other.
Home is a word that floats above the trees.
I know that voice, sings the girl.
I know that song, sings the boy.
They are both ashamed of their parents.
The Mysterious Twin
There is only one of me, she says,
but we all know there are two.
She says she is an only child
but we know full well she is not.
Her mysterious twin is out there
doing something in the garden.
I can’t see her from the window.
Where is she exactly? Then when I turn back
she has put aside her knitting,
she has switched off the television
because the volume knob is broken.
She probably turned it up too hard.
But as always she is lucky. Her mysterious twin
will come back inside quite soon
and fix it.
Photograph © risa ikeda