After my father died, a man bought my mother
a peacock. She named it the rarest of gifts
this blue-green bird that fluttered its tail
of eyes, kohled their rims in black fen soil.
We watched it each day for weeks, but failed
to notice it jab the wire and free itself.
The first sighting came from a boy
on his paper-round: its song, a call
to summer from a November morning.
With nets and sacks, we were a crazy act of hope
and hopelessness, as we found a feather
but no bird: Rarest of Gifts was lost,
until a new sighting came from a bungalow
estate. The peacock had been drawn to a glint
of patio glass. Seeing its own reflection,
it battered beak, wings and claws until collapse.
And as my mother’s new husband crept behind
with a cloth bag, I saw her thin face reflected
in the patio door, watching the capture
of a hundred-eyed bird, blind to his tactic:
slow, slow, grab.
Published in The Fenland Reed, 2016