Lay for the Day
The birthday of my first grandchild, Otis Nelson Butterfield-Kendall.
This was written for his blessing ceremony.
Look at the starlings
tonight round Trafalgar Square,
on a night like this near the autumn equinox
exploding in waves against
the sombre sky,
in waves of who knows how many tens of thousands.
You were born in a moment
How may souls burst with you into the air?
Angular, precise, a piece
of the puzzle,
each hundred-thousandth body locks exactly into its place in the world:
but who can follow the course
of one of those flickering specks
swept and whirled in the waves of its fellows?
How light and hard, soft and
dry and bony is a bird in the hand,
the bright eye and the stiff gape evoking the lizard ancestor.
Perhaps from this piece we
could work out the shape of the next
above and below it, insect, twig or bird; then perhaps the shape of the
But you, being human, are
You belong everywhere and nowhere
and these shapes are not locked:
a baby hand
that has barely brushed the surface of its capability,
a speechless mouth and weightless
mind without past or future,
whirled shrieking into the air. And this chaotic world
begins to be born again in
you and takes on order
piece by piece, and we gather, looking into the world
you are shaping, to see that
The starlings whirl shrieking into the sky,
the stars whirl silently into
They are waiting on the world you make.
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