Maggie Sawkins

The Birds

She got used to the birds
flying around the house


except for the days
when their cawing filtered
through the floorboards


and even the dog was afraid.



When friends or relations came
the birds disappeared through the windows
and waited on the roof top
or under the eaves.


One day the cawing stopped.


The birds settled in the silence
like a big black cloud.


In her bedroom she built a cage
and the birds flew in
one by one.


Weeks later she returned from school
found her mother and father
in the kitchen – kissing.


From her room she could hear
the flutter of a million tiny wings.


The door opened and the birds
glided through the house


weightless and blue.

Maggie Sawkins
“The Birds” won first prize in The Winchester Writers’ Conference Poetry Competition 1998 and first appeared in The Best of ’98.