1 My mother always called it a nest, the multi-colored mass harvested from her six daughters' brushes, and handed it to one of us after she had shaped it, as we sat in front of the fire drying our hair. She said some birds steal anything, a strand of spider's web, or horse's mane, the residue of sheep's wool in the grasses near a fold where every summer of her girlhood hundreds nested. Since then I've seen it for myself, their genius— how they transform the useless. I've seen plastics stripped and whittled into a brilliant straw, and newspapers—the dates, the years— supporting the underweavings. 2 As tonight in our bed by the window you brush my hair to help me sleep, and clean the brush as my mother did, offering the nest to the updraft. I'd like to think it will be lifted as far as the river, and catch in some white sycamore, or drift, too light to sink, into the shaded inlets, the bank-moss, where small fish, frogs, and insects lay their eggs. Would this constitute an afterlife? The story goes that sailors, moored for weeks off islands they called paradise, stood in the early sunlight cutting their hair. And the rare birds there, nameless, almost extinct, came down around them and cleaned the decks and disappeared into the trees above the sea.
Deborah Digges - 1950-2009
The Wind Blows Through the Doors of My Heart
The wind blows through the doors of my heart. It scatters my sheet music that climbs like waves from the piano, free of the keys. Now the notes stripped, black butterflies, flattened against the screens. The wind through my heart blows all my candles out. In my heart and its rooms is dark and windy. From the mantle smashes birds' nests, teacups full of stars as the wind winds round, a mist of sorts that rises and bends and blows or is blown through the rooms of my heart that shatters the windows, rakes the bedsheets as though someone had just made love. And my dresses they are lifted like brides come to rest on the bedstead, crucifixes, dresses tangled in trees in the rooms of my heart. To save them I've thrown flowers to fields, so that someone would pick them up and know where they came from. Come the bees now clinging to flowered curtains. Off with the clothesline pinning anything, my mother's trousseau. It is not for me to say what is this wind or how it came to blow through the rooms of my heart. Wing after wing, through the rooms of the dead the wind does not blow. Nor the basement, no wheezing, no wind choking the cobwebs in our hair. It is cool here, quiet, a quilt spread on soil. But we will never lie down again.