Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

‘The Birdman’: a poem by Christine Roseeta Walker


    The Birdman


He knew he wasn’t like the parakeets
in the guinep tree or the egrets in the mangrove
or like the bridge where the river dirtied the sea, at breakwater.
He knew how to stay on the ground.

His rum cup in one hand, the other
pressed over his lips, he swayed on the piazza,
whistling through his fingers the bananaquit song. He had loved
a brown-skin wife who kissed him at the airport,

said she would see him in three months.
He rode the crowded bus home, his mind resting
on the empty sea. Eighteen years
passed, her kiss he still could remember. His fingers over his lips,

he honoured the birds, wishing to be
free, to be able to feel his wife’s lips on his lips.
If he could he would soar to Canada and perch on her windowsill.
Chirping the bananaquit song,

hoping she would remember the green
fields of his love and the bridge above the mangrove bush
where the egrets sleep, where they made their first child.
After twenty-five years waiting.

His voice grew hoarse. The bananaquit song
faded. The shopkeeper placed a plaque, the colour of parakeets,
on the piazza wall, which greeted the pink-edged eyes of his aged wife,


In fond memory of
The Birdman.