Poetry

Vanellinae

And I know now, about the birds – their Latin name, their

population and international distribution. I know their

 

migratory patterns and have watched footage of them in

flight; could write about the slow, irregular beat of wing or

 

shrillness of call, but still do not know how to write about

you——————standing at the window that morning at the

 

repatriation clinic, grey in the early light alongside the other

old soldiers and all of you just watching the birds in the grass

 

outside. Seven of you there at the window, not speaking only

smoking as you'd smoked through decades of daily crossword

 

instant coffee, broken families, anger management, repeat

prescriptions, therapy through wood and leather work and

 

all those things nobody talks about. You stood smoking and

watched the birds build a nest, and though I know the word

 

Vanellinae—————I still do not know how to write about what

you and those grey men were waiting for.

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