Introducing the June 2008 Readers: 2. Eleanor Livingstone

Eleanor Livingstone lives in Fife. She has been widely published in the UK, Ireland and the US, and some of her poems are presently being translated into Lithuanian.
Recent publications include her chapbook collection, The Last King of Fife (HappenStance, 2005) and, as editor, Skein of Geese (The Shed Press/StAnza, 2008) and Migraasje: Versions in Scots and Shetlandic (Stravaigers, 2008).
She is Artistic Director of StAnza: Scotland’s Poetry Festival.

how to watch a seagull die

The parent birds must build a nest
on the brick cliffs of our chimney stack
three hundred yards from the promenade;
and the first we’ll know of it will be
when two pompoms of grey fluff
land on the half roof overlooked
by the photocopier and the fax machine.

And though the mother gull
will dive at us, squawking every time
she sees us dart from car to office door,
we’ll watch as spring warms into summer
and the fledglings sleep and peck and flap their way
into adulthood, growing sleek grey feathers,
discarding the fluff of their infant lives.

Eyeing us through the glass, impatiently they’ll pace
the five square yards of roof, measuring by hops
and runs and wingspans, readying for take-off.
Then some fine morning, we’ll arrive to find one
not asleep but huddled, less, trying again
and again to shake his fractious feathers
into place; and again. All day

while the fax machine bleeps
and the photocopier hums away
we’ll watch from our side of the window
one eye on the clock, knowing that at five
we’ll pull down the blinds, switch off
the photocopier and leave the office,
avoiding the eye of the waiting mother bird.

– Originally published in Magma.

Taster No. 1Mike Stocks

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