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Porch Swallows

In a nest no bigger than the breast pocket
Of your old art teacher's tweed jacket
They are raising a family, biro-black and bubble-eyed,
Blind when we came here.

She climbs a coiled path of air
And picks berries of blood from it,
Chucks herself back and banks on a pinhead,
Whiplashes in at the porch, up to its nook,

Then sticks heartwrung mites into a set
Of mouths agape as bells.
And we are in muscle-agony on a col,
Toiling up a one-in-three.

By nighttime she sits on her lot
Like the lid of a brown betty,
Settles herself on a cache of knife-edge wings,
Doesn't flinch in the dazzling wink

Of my late night torch. All I see
Is a kind of shadow play, a tiny head
Made huge on a riddled eave,
While directly below on the flag

A berg of droppings grows like pottery,
A stalagmite still warm, like the bottle
We try not to kick on our way out,
And which is full every morning.

Gerard Woodward

The Seacunny

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