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‘Watching the Nestbox’ by Anna Selby — Primers Shortlist 2018

Watching the Nestbox

May 22nd to July 19th 2018

To hold a dying bird in your hands
is like holding an argument:
hot little thudding
hot scuffle of feathers
all angles and escape
a body flooded, bolting.
Its feathers peek between your fingers:
reptilian tongues.
A breath-a breath-abreath.
Put it in your mouth
like a naughty dog:
hot little thudding
hot scuffle of feathers.
I watched them opening.
New-born swifts
look more like they’re dying
more mid-treatment, half-lings:
their gonad skin, their pathetic feather-fluff.
Scratchy old Horrors:
hot little thudding
hot scuffle of feathers.
Then when the nestlings’ needles come in
it is a kind of trauma
watching them.
But when they fledge —
they move more like fish: flying
as if falling couldn’t exist.
When the first has its second birth
swims itself out of the nest
and swings like shot.
Oh it’s love.
It’s love.

Anna Selby is on the ten-person shortlist for Primers Volume Four. ‘Watching the Nestbox’ is from her shortlisted manuscript As Fire Is. We’ve been showcasing the work of all the shortlisted writers over the past two weeks. Click here to read more poems.

Anna Selby is a poet and naturalist. Her poetry often explores our connection with water and the natural world. She works collaboratively with choreographers, writes poetic-studies of different species, en plein air, often underwater, and aims for these poems to share a sense of compassion and attentiveness to the environment.

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Author Photo © Katie Musgrave