The Magpie

Dear Yuri,

The magpie gazes through my window. Pica pica. Even its Latin name is light enough to be carried by the wind. Recently I’ve been woken by bird song. It seems louder – more joyful now. It’s an illusion. Birds are singing quieter than before, just the world is sleeping now. Birds have reclaimed the airwaves.

They’re not the only singers. The sweet peas by my wall have reared their premature heads. Their fragility is a façade. As my nain said, cut a sweet pea and more grow back. They were her favourite. Her house was full of picked sweet peas whose discarded stems would bloom. How naive we were to see man as the strongest species.

A chiffchaff trills to a triumphant sky. Glorious pinks and oranges have claimed the evenings’ fabric. Day brings a sparse tranquillity. Free from vapour trails, the blue space stretches like an infinite sea. Do my grandparents gaze out at the sky through their glass ceiling? Have their sparrows returned to their nest in their roof? Do they open their window to hear the song? I dream of stepping through their conservatory door. Of hugging them. Of listening to the birdsong together.

My magpie is no longer alone. Two croon together now. The visitor has gathered treasures from beyond my horizon: twigs from the unswept road, discarded fur from a cat I’m yet to meet and grass cuttings from the empty school. They busy themselves, building a new life high above my garden. Whilst my dish water spirals around the drain, they survey their new nest with pride. From my window, I see them fly over the fence. They soar higher than we ever will.

Bethany, Monmouthshire, Wales


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