The Bum Barrel Gang passed through today,
constant flicks of head and tail,
skip and hop from twig to lichened twig,
bare honeysuckle, then down
to the sunflower hearts and fat-ball
of the garden oasis.
Garbed in pink and black,
yellow eyeliner and pinched face,
they lifted the soul for a moment,
tails erect as conductor’s batons,
driving nature’s winter rhythm.
They were gone as soon as they came,
skipping off with constant calling,
twelve acrobats of bush and lane,
blue and coal tit out-riggers,
tagging along for the ride.
A moment later and the hunter struck,
barred chest and yellow legs,
curved talons of death, eyes of black ice,
swooping from nowhere,
an invisible spectre, the assassin’s path
No Bum Barrel in the steely grasp,
as it lifted away to the over arching ash,
but a neatly parcelled morsel of yellow and blue hung below,
it’s life spirit already passed,
feather and meat yet to part,
to feed the majestic flyer on this cold December’s day.
Not thirty seconds ticked by before the birds returned,
to snatch a nut or seed.
Not a moment spared to the thought of loss,
just onward in the struggle,
to sustain, to warm, to live.
Another night of aching cold approached,
the winter sun diving to the horizon,
Leaving an unblemished sky,
washed in blue, yellow and pink.
The Bum Barrell Gang moved on – I smiled,
touched again by nature and it’s simple truths
that ground the human spirit,
reminding us of our place and,
that we share, not own this land.