Inktober…but make it poetry

In October 2022 I made a resolve to begin each day with writing. I rose early, and soon spotted that my neighbour and friend, artis Maggie Cameron was creating the most beautiful bird images as part of the Inktober challenge. What began as a fun way to develop a regular writing practice gave us a small collection of poems that spans themes around motherhood, habitat loss and everything in between. There are serious poems, political poems and poems that are simply about love.

Maggie and I exhibited our work together in February and March 2023, and plan to publish the full collection of images and poems later this year. Here are a few of the pieces from the exhibition.

Maiden, mother, crone

Cradle feathers, plucked
to carve the brood patch

create a crown, a cape


legends of maidens, messengers, 

Norse wells of purity.

Choose this song

		            choose this song

to be your last—

of beauty, of fearlessness, 

of grace

of strength. 

The first time my father saw a mandarin duck

was later than the first time he saw the sea

and earlier

than the first time he saw me the first time

my father saw a mandarin duck

he gasped slowed at its beauty

it’s gold shadowed eye

russet feather ruff

impossibly fine fuchsia bill (look again) he

gasped watched it zigzag the Tees

followed its path stopped still understood

he had almost invaded the nest.

thrust through waves
golden-green with lichen, 
yellow-white with guano	 
to a pear-shaped egg, or chick
pressed hard in earth hewn shelter

Pufflings wait
confound scavenger gulls		
that circle
A peacock feather lives in a cup that bears your name 

If you only saw the underside,
in this pale half-light
you would see just raggedness, broken tips.
Only the spine, the barbed shaft,
Your watcher’s breath
moves in close, creates movement.
Your slowed mind
remembers you can turn it
(and you always knew you could)
There. The eye,
that belongs with one hundred and seventy-five others
to form a train of texture, shimmer, azure ocean, turning leaf—
You run your hands over and over
try to imagine it whole.

Woman feeding chickens 

We are women, feeding chickens,
feeding fantasy
of blissful domesticity,
of needing artifice to be.
In this grain
we hide our will
to walk,
to reach the place
where will sing discordant song,
where we will whistle uselessly,
where we will crow and cackle.
We’ll scratch our truth,
re-feather wings, and feed just as we please.
We are women, feeding chickens,
we are here
take heed.