Thursday Poem

Kookaburra

So big in life, head like a chopping block
Beak like a carving knife,
His hysterical voice cracked branches, his laugh
Stripped bark from the wood-borers.

But in the twilight something got him,
So close to the house I should have heard.
He was left like a taunt, a dead bird
By an empty chicken run.

Now his dusk-stained feathers rock
In their dead grass cradle,
His bitten body is the flame
From which these moths escape.

That beak is buried in the sucked-out skull
Where eyes were lost in another mouth. His small crate,
Ant-eaten already, has ribs open like rafters
To welcome flies, and his wings rest like two open fans beside him.

Stripped of what made him
He is only a fraction of his noise.

by Frieda Hughes
from Wooroloo

HarperCollins, 1998

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