It seemed a bright, promising, sunlit spring
and Chloris had liked to listen for song,
despite being shy and unassuming.
But her alert and graceful manner
and upright stance had become wary
and evasive since the discordant news.
The war had come in a gust and opened
the safety latch to her enclosed world.
She and her near neighbours feared the worst:
alarm calls left pleaded in deep undergrowth.
An old man opposite had slipped a note
under her door to sigh in tactful tones.
A plastic bag over his head did the rest.
Another neighbour's son had come home early,
from fields, to swing from the ceiling. Quietly.
Chloris was rounded up. And thrown around
about a place where she heard tales of grenades,
and how trucks backed over the winged injured.
She looked outside prison bars and wondered
where song had gone since she'd last seen sunlight.
The atmosphere thickened with distress calls.
The cold, pitiless stare of a sparrow hawk
was eyeing its victim with calm purpose.
And much dismemberment was going on.
She wondered about the quality of mercy
and the truth of divinity in nature.
Dark wings were cowling their victim like a cape:
a looming shadow trapped over clutched talons.
The air clung heavy with harsh, chattering shrieks.
The strategist had been effective
and three short flaps and a glide had soon led
to a proud display on the plucking post.
There was to be no more song on that day.
The next, a man with a revolver came
and fired between her legs but the gun jammed.
His blank, hollowed eyes dissolved in shame.
He was exhausted, stooped, spent of spirit.
His agitated face portrayed the terror
that he'd failed his audition so badly.
He had been quiet up to then but now
fell into a shrill squeal and a distress
of rapid, petulant yikkering. He sobbed.
She took him to her succour breast
and hugged and comforted him like a small child,
knowing every third thought should be of graves.
Eventually, he returned and released her
and she dazed back to ruins and broken gaps,
through which sound might seep and restore calm,
when war had concluded its numbing madness.
She gathered soft feathers from a garden kill
to sew on a garment to spread over
the stooped shoulders of one without wings.
One, no longer lost, who might some day visit
and try on the comfort she'd stitched together.
And who valued the belief in torn costumes
after the conflict threatened to disrobe them.
Later, sounds in the deep undergrowth ceased.
It was spring again and Chloris listened afresh,
faintly hopeful that fate's harmonies
would, may be, at last, be well-tempered.
Distant voices from neighbouring children
started chorusing a song of arrival.
There seemed to be movement at the garden gate.
Chloris sensed, cautiously, and began to hum.