[from Robert Adamson's The Goldfinches of Baghdad, Flood Editions, 2006]
Walking by the River
He walked waist-deep
through his thoughts,
emotions, a tangle of vines
His words were finches,
flying before him
as he swung his arms --
A waterfall sounded
ahead of his walk,
chipped words cracked
with each step. He came to
a calm place, opulent phrases
in bloom: purple-fruited
pigface, the blackthorn's
Twenty crows gathered on a branch,
bare in the early summer's heat.
We strung a bow from the willow tree
and used bamboo for arrows.
The afternoon thrummed with locusts.
Clouds at the end of the sky
were alive with thunder that shook
the corrugated iron. We were wet
with sweat -- it was a hundred degrees
that day. Granny said, hot as bloody Hades.
It was Christmas time -- the girls
were up for holidays -- and we were
playing under the verandah. The sun
spread a golden glow in the calm
before the gathering storm
as the first snake of the season
came slithering out of the fowl yard,
leaving us its red-checked skin.
The Goldfinches of Baghdad