If your chest quavers and you are moved to touch
Which finger would you choose?
Well, take that finger,
The one you would use to smooth
The mauve eyelid of a lover, the one you’d test the
Moisture between her lips, just before you taste,
The temperature, texture and salt of a full loving,
Take that finger
With all its memory
And draw it across the
Crown of this frail head
And watch the colour ululate,
Ululate, a throat warble, a heartsong
As the pressure of your
Loving finger depresses the napery of feather, let it progress,
As a real lover would,
To follow the curve from scalp to nape
Where the bones are so tiny,
So heartbreakingly fragile
That tears well in your eye,
Let your palm cup the body,
The perfect curve of folded flight,
The mighty power of feather and bone
Yet the lightest breeze can puff them from the page, but riffle the page itself,
Lighter than paper,
Stronger than gravity
But your finger
Can make it shimmer like velvet,
Whisper like love.
And love can be the reverence
Of a wetted finger,
Or the regret of a finger stalling on the nape of a dead bird,
But it is still love
And only love.
Some things pass
And we have caused it,
Other things pass and there is nothing we could have done,
So love can be regret,
But regret is always love,
And regret is that the bird is gone,
Because we didn’t love enough?
Or because the angle of the sphere is out of our control,
Also just like love.


Reflection: I was travelling through the Gariwerd country looking at the trees altered by the old people for ceremonial purposes and I kept thinking of an azure kingfisher which I had found dead after colliding with a window the day before and so my thoughts were all about beauty, death and love … and I’d experienced them all in one day.

Bruce Pascoe reads 'Loss'