“Circling Birdies”

“Circling Birdies”


In cartoon worlds, if you’re struck
on the head the small birds that encircle
your scalp are known as a “halo” or “circling
birdies”—a cartoonist’s motif or trope or idiom.

Trope is misused in the context and idiom
bent to fit the warped view the sufferer
is perceiving. At the top of the block
late this afternoon, four or five yellow-

rumped thornbills, electric between lucerne
and eucalypts, suddenly flocked about my head
and began circling, or encircling—making
me dizzy with long shadows pulling my feet

out from beneath me, their shattering
tiny glass voices enticing yet repellent.
I thought of Hartnett’s “Necklace of Wrens”
which I could only partially recollect and even

now can’t quite configure, while realising
it had something to do with the order of words,
and that I would have to draw on all composition
to gently break free of their wreath.

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