Hello. This is a poem I wrote about my late father, Len Oldfield, a lifelong birder.It was published in issue 31 of Under the Radar magazine, and now in my new poetry pamphlet, The Bird Roomfrom Hedgehog Poetry Press, which looks at how my own attitude to birds was influenced by my dad's (obsessive!) hobby. It pairs some of my dad's prize-winning bird photos with my poems - a collaboration and closeness we never achieved when he was alive - and aims to show how in spite of our differences, we were both looking for the same thing (whether through a pair of binoculars or not!) - love.Hope you enjoy the poem.
It was always as if birds came to you by magicwhen they appeared on branch, rock, water,and you exclaimed I don’t believe it!then reeled off a name. But of course you believed it –you’d done your research, knew the jizz backwards.No question then that it was a black-browed albatrossyou spotted from your South African hotel balconyas it passed, close inshore. In your bird notes, precisely logged as Scottburgh, 0700, July 11th 2005,you wrote with the excitement of a schoolboy:From my first sighting, I never saw it flap a wing, and I watched it out of sight. You know you are somewhere special when you get an albatross in the bins.
In your final days, another albatross came,visible through the hospital window only to you.Your gaze was steady, sure. Afterwards, in the notesyou’d left in the bird room, addressed to me,you say in that tiny Parkinson’s scriptthat if you could be any creature, it would be a bird.I would spread my wings, and go anywhere I wanted.I sit at your desk with a pile of field guides and readhow seabirds’ white undersides can make them difficultto spot against the sky as they pass overhead.I will look up then, sometimes, often, imaginewhat might be there unseen and think of you,wings fully extended, wind-shear soaring,never needing to flap a wing.Dawn Gorman