By | 1 March 2017

Now, for me, the cycle
of church seasons is replaced
by the rhythms of birds –
not just the beat of wings
measured or contrapuntal notes of song
but the names –

White-throated Needletail
the Oriental Pratincole
or Spangled Drongo
the subspecies of the Painted Button-Quail
turnix varius scintillans
found only on the Abrolhos islands.

Two who have lived a name
with the chatty rhythm of gibberbirds
mother and daughter
turning over the plain buttons
the sequins, to scatter
on the oriental silk
woven by worms
patterns like the speckled feathers
on the coverts of quails
the spangles on starlings’ wings.

Chatter, laughter, the cackle of ducks
weaving through the concentration
of lithe and arthritic fingers
that pierce the buttons
stitching down memories
with needle and thread.

Like birds, like lifespan
the liturgy wanes,
the extinction of belief
banishing from the fashion
of wearable garments
words now lost
once made of silk
or silver, flame – chasuble
aspergillum, Pentecost
the tintinnabulation
of now silent bells.

In response to Connections Quilt: buttons and silk, 137cm x 187 cm,
by Suzanne C and Lucinda C. Bird Connections Exhibition, 107 Projects Gallery,
Redfern NSW, September 2016 (Private Collection).

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