Now, for me, the cycle

of church seasons is replaced

by the rhythms of birds –

not just the beat of wings

measured or contrapuntal notes of song

but the names –


White-throated Needletail

the Oriental Pratincole

or Spangled Drongo

the subspecies of the Painted Button-Quail

turnix varius scintillans

found onlyon the Abrolhos islands.


Two who have lived a name

with the chatty rhythm of gibberbirds

mother and daughter

turning over the plain buttons

the sequins, to scatter

on the oriental silk

woven by worms

patterns like the speckled feathers

on the coverts of quails

the spangles on starlings’ wings.


Chatter, laughter, the cackle of ducks

weaving through the concentration

of lithe and arthritic fingers

that pierce the buttons

stitching down memories

with needle and thread.


Like birds, like lifespan

the liturgy wanes,

the extinction of belief

banishing from the fashion

of wearable garments

words now lost

once made of silk

or silver, flame – chasuble

aspergillum, Pentecost

the tintinnabulation

of now silent bells.


Charlotte Clutterbuck


Connections Quilt: buttons and silk, 137cm x 187 cm

Artists: Suzanne Clutterbuck and Lucinda Clutterbuck

Bird Connections Exhibition, 107 Projects Gallery, Redfern NSW, September 2016


Posted on  –  June 24, 2023