Three sonnets by Kate Bingham

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    Three Sonnets

 

From brown on brown, a tall fawn eating blackberries.
Look how it hasn’t seen me yet – head
in the bushes full of flies, hindquarters flexing
and flinching as it browses closer, closer,

greedy moulting drunk then suddenly
up it startles, leaping towards me instead
of off through the thicket. Closer still it steps,
till I can see the scratches on its nose,

and hold my breath and superstitiously
look down into the grassy path it treads
as one wide eye at a time inspects
my outline. Now I’m something else it knows,

safe to leave slowly. Through and through
for each look back it gives I’m breathing thank you.

 

*

 

We are alive nine months before we breathe
but only when we take our first breath live,
we learn it once, then we forget we learned
and learn to think of our best thoughtless acts –
kindness, for instance, or praise – as rising naturally
as the breath we take no credit for, as if
only rewards we don’t intend to earn
can bless us, just as I was blessed with thanks

in the wood for what I held my breath to see,
the rising natural word of it mine to give
as thoughtlessly as heart and lungs return
borrowed air, or as the deer turns back
to look at me once more and disappears
into the blackberry bushes a different deer.

 

*

 

Twilight in the rain and still the blackbirds
keep tidying up. No twig or feather,
it seems, no sudden footstep or new call
can be ignored, as if in their response

to this dim dripping green-slurred world,
its noisy microscopic fuss and bother,
underground networks, silks and sacs and spores,
its insect millions, rabbit badger fox

even me in my best silence, overheard,
their lives entirely consist. Together
we are a passing back and forth rapport,
the wood’s one sound, a song that never stops.

To listen and be listened to
the trees and I stand in the rain wet through.

 

Kate Bingham

About Kate Bingham

Kate Bingham has published two novels and three books of poetry: 'Cohabitation', 'Quicksand Beach', and 'Infragreen' (all Seren). She was shortlisted for the Forward Prize in 2006 and 2010. In 2016 she was No. 9 in Clutag’s ‘Five Poems’ series, which includes an earlier version of the second sonnet published here, ‘We are alive...’. This autumn she has two children’s picture books coming out with Graffeg: 'Every Boy’s Alphabet' and 'Every Girl’s Alphabet'.