‘Feathers’ by Mark Granier


She gave me an etching she’d made
of a single feather, one of the short, curled ones
that plump ski-jackets and pillows. I asked
for it, though it may also have been a kind
of parting gift to something that could never
get off the ground.
Feathers found in amber
‘represent distinct stages of feather evolution… from
single-filament protofeathers to structures
associated with modern diving birds.’
In an old copy of The Rattle Bag (bulked
with bookmarks: photos, letters, notes…) I found
a postcard I’d sent home from Perth in ’74:
some long-horned highland cattle, and taped on the back,
a grouse-feather, fresh as ever, blunt
as a shovel, its earth-brown speckles beautifully
covering the little I could find to say.
A microraptor –– dark, small as a pigeon ––
shed, along with its life,
colour, ‘bundles of pigment’ far
thinner than a hair, in stone
sensitive to tones: a touch
of oily iridescence,
shades of blackness in feathers:
ferns, broken bones, the crushed
umbrella light of the Cretaceous
opening for us.
Mark Granier has published four collections of poetry: Airborne (Salmon Poetry, 2001), The Sky Road (Salmon, 2007), Fade Street (Salt, 2010) and Haunt (Salmon, 2015). Prizes and awards include the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize in 2004 and a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in 2011. He teaches Creative Writing for University College Dublin’s Adult Education programme and at The Irish Writers’ Centre. New & Selected Poems forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2017. Blogs: Lightbox / Skyroad (flickr) / Skyroad (blipfoto)