The reviled and opportunistic sacred ibis
strolls the lawns of the botanical gardens
like a casual flaneur hoping for crusts.
The trouble is it looks so ungrateful
as if all the crusts and scraps belong
to it alone, with its curved beak
manufactured like a surgical calliper,
perfectly evolved for sifting bins.
Indifferent to the loathing heaped
upon its scabrous head it languishes
in the same lowly category of disgust
as the rat, the gull, the flying fox the guano
of which is turning the garden to a wasteland.
Perhaps it is not the ibis, but we
whom hubris infects, wanting
to dictate who may pick, who desereves.
Like so many, we want the ibis to look
more humble, to abject itself before the charity
of our perfectly evolved disdain.
Startled, the little Silvereyes
dash to the heart of the drought bush
protected by its brittle armoury of thorns.
One by one, like falling autumn
they drop to the straw coloured grass
recommence their foraging.
Startled again, my shoe scraping
on gravel, the passing shadow of a crow
they flee once more to the centre
co-ordinated as one breathing thing.
One by two, like mice with wings
(and silver eyes) the tiny birds
float to the ground, repeat, float
like autumn, repeat, float, repeat again.
| || ||
Mark O’Flynn has published four collections of poems, most
recently Untested Cures (2011). His poetry and short fiction
have appeared in many Australian journals as well as overseas. His
novels include Grassdogs (2006) and The Forgotten
World (HarperCollins, 2013). He has also published the comic
memoir False Start. A collection of short fiction, White
Light, was published by Spineless Wonders (2013).