the nights are cooling

Barcelona sleeps under

a sky-song of flight


A distant country. The four of us share a small, windowless
family room on the top floor of a backpackers’ hostel. I lie newly awake,
disoriented, wondering. In the nightlight’s dimness I can see both my children
on their narrow beds, as rumpled in sleep as their sheets. You are warm beside
me. All is well.

Suddenly I understand the sounds that woke me;


streets void of traffic

yet the night swells with honking

birds fly on instinct


I climb from the bed, wrap myself in a jacket and quietly
unlatch the door to the landing. The tiled floor is cold beneath my bare feet,
the stairwell is empty, its silence echoing with the strange, ethereal noise. I
look up to the skylight,


through a square of glass

the wild geese arrow southwards

bound by their calling    


I am transported to another time, to memories of childhood
books describing the markers of a hemisphere so different from my own; green
forested hillsides that transform in autumn to carpets of scarlet and amber,
deeply shaded glades  studded with rings
of white-spotted red toadstools, the delicacy of deer prints in snow. A
hemisphere where geese fly south for winter.

Above me the birds float through a bounded geometry,
ghostly, majestic, their broad wings flapping slowly. It could almost be the
city light, luminous on their pale underfeathers, that holds them aloft.


wild geese skim darkness

their cries like calling children

half lost in a dream


I tear myself away, hoping the skeins of dim shapes will
continue floating across this city sky, hoping their melancholy honking will
last long enough for me to shake you and our children awake.

Wanting us all to share this. Wanting the memory to bind us
more closely.


Haibun published in Yellow Moon Seed Pearls 19, 2006, highly commended