Image by Jan Kemp

Jackdaws at St Materiana

Briar Wood


Jackdaws at St Materiana

Briar Wood


Jackdaws at St Materiana

Jackdaws at St Materiana

This is their turf,
wormful of fresh mounded mole holes,
garlanded in wreaths and rare
plants found only in churchyards.

A pack of jesters acting like
a gang of toughs in Elizabethan ruffs -
one sex as plucky as the other.
The church doors are barred

against their entry. Four square
in the wind, a sailor’s landmark.
Madron’s monument.
On fine days they mind their business

hopping nonchalant on the Celtic cross
a memorial for world wars’ dead
or slate gravestones for Tinneys,
Taylors, Wades and Matthews.

Calling from curzyway walls,
curving like surfers on sea air
in high winds they fly to spires to rest
or roost or nest or just for the hell of it

swooping through bell music
land and line up on the church roof
sentries to love’s muddy pathways,
lost hearts, red scarves, sunrise.


‘Jackdaws at St Materiana’, uncollected, first published in the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive, © Briar Wood 2004, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004.

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