‘The Bird Room’ by Dawn Gorman

The Bird Room

There were no birds here,
just books about them,
maps on the walls with a forest of pins
to mark where he’d seen them,
and drawer after drawer of eggs.
Her bed was squeezed into a corner;
she drew in her borders so she could fit.
A leopard-print chair
was pushed up close every night
to stop her rolling out;
she remembers the dusty smell of it,
and beyond, the glint of drawer knobs
she was forbidden to touch.
He’d collected the eggs, he said, before it was illegal,
took only one from each clutch.
This was meant to be a good thing,
but she felt their loneliness,
lifted her face for the same whiff of air.
Sometimes she imagined the unlived chicks
bobbing on perfect, cotton wool sea;
their feet, unseen,
kicked at precisely-positioned labels.
(published in the anthology Salt on the Wind, Elephant’s Footprint, poems in response to the work of US poet Ruth Stone, to mark the centenary of her birth)
Dawn Gorman will be poet-in-residence at Edinburgh Fringe for a second year this August, working with ceramicist Liz Watts at the EDS Gallery. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment recently based a symphony on her poem ‘Replenishment’, and her film poem of the same name appeared at Cannes Short Film Festival 2015. She runs the reading series Words & Ears in Bradford on Avon.