Blackbird tree


In hospital.

I wake at 3am. I am anxious. I am full of longings. I need to sink into a place; I need to feel my roots wriggling downwards into deep earth.

I lie for ages trying to sleep, trying to breathe slowly, hands clasped over belly. Gradually the dark sky grows paler behind the shrubs outside.  What kind of a day will this be? What will I see of it? Being in bed in hospital has changed, for now, my relationship to the dynamic patterns beyond the window: mostly, there is just this patch to look out at.

The early light reaches a critical level and I become aware of a blackbird sitting quietly in the little tree a few feet away. I’ve seen it before – a solitary male. He must live here.  My neighbour. No nest, just a hideaway branch.

I think I see the moment the bird wakes up.

He is round – head nestled down on shoulders, beak on breast. His movements are small and slow when he first opens his eyes. I watch the blackbird gather himself and get ready for the day ahead. He grooms. His movements grow larger and livelier. He preens, shakes, scratches, ruffles and smoothes his feathers for at least half an hour.  I eat a bowl of muesli perched on the bed on my side of the glass. He hops down from his favoured perch in the little tree to catch his own breakfast.


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