The birds at her window

for my mother at ninety


at her verandah, the palms gather,
trees feathered like birds –

but the palms never come to the window,
folding their wings, looking
for something to eat, she says

and when the round moon rises
and the palms shift their fronds
in a breeze of silver light,

it doesn’t make any sound, she says
we don’t hear the moon calling


I bring her the fallen
frangipani flowers

their curved, white wings

five pure petals cupping
a well of sun

they’re perfect, she says
– and silent


there are birds here,
or their gestures,
their daubed lorikeet colours –

in these days, a tree
might voice its heart’s call,
palms might arrive at the window
to feed and preen –

we watch stormclouds at sunset,
their gilded towers
dimming into blue –
when it’s getting ready to say good-bye,
it’s like a flower opening, she says

and rain sweeps the roof,
and the moon visits again –

she is listening
for the moon’s pure carolling,
the breeze and sweep of its wings

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