Bush Stone-curlews – evening

Thinking that their guttering laments
came each night from the garden
of the old convent

where two ancient nuns dodder
arm-in-arm along the lawn, in the declining sun,
we dubbed them the Shrieking Maries.

I first thought only their mothers
could love their knobble-kneed walk
the heavy beak and mournful, staring eyes,

but when I got to know them,
their wailing, screaming, fluttering
calls from the peninsula at night
are strangely comforting

the subdued brown and buff lace
of their feathers more beautiful
than gaudy chasubles.

Like their namesakes, the two old Sisters,
the Bush Stone-curlews
face their own god-forsaken twilight

having — as my neighbour notes, seeing
them maundering across the road at dusk —
no sense of self-preservation.


Charlotte Clutterbuck

Posted on  –  June 24, 2023