Yesterday I found a bird skull in the garden while I was weeding.
I like the way there is a little patch of feathers on the top of it’s head, like a macabre toupee.
In one of those cases of art foreshadowing life, I wrote a poem a long while back about digging up bird skulls. It is in my book.
I really did bury some bird bodies in the garden – however, that was at my old house, so this bird skull is not one of those that I buried.
Since I wrote that poem, my cat died of throat cancer. I didn’t bury him in the garden, though. I had him cremated. His ashes are in a little white box on the mantlepiece, wrapped with a yellow ribbon.
Here’s the poem:
I am curating the kills of my cat, collected
with shovel, buried together in a yard-bird cemetery
at the edge of the comfrey patch. Soil nourishment, for sure,
but mostly because I want to dig up the skulls.
A bird skull is a beautiful thing.
Mechanics of bone, small sculpture with hinge of jaw,
tiny teeth and spike of beak. When I dig them up
I might make a necklace of skulls, like an urban Kali,
goddess of change, of Your Time Is Up.
Sparrow head, blackbird beak, thrush face,
threaded on leather, fastened with wood.
More likely, I would sit them in a neat row
on a bookshelf in front of my orange Penguin classics.
Or, more inevitably, I will forget.