The birds I live with are skwawky. A deliberately uglily-written word to reflect their sound. I have seagulls, not thrushes, nightingales (dear, sad Philomel, as Eliot observed singing jug-jug, an eternal rape victim; what an ambivalent man, who needs questioning), blackbirds or even crows. They vomit their cat-sick gutteral grawkings, bickers and screamings with no heed for the rest who might be sleeping. Any hope of a tree-loving bird to wake me, to woo me, to serenade….is long long gone.

I grew up with the calming wood pigeon. That is the sweetest sound I know. Especially when melded with the unconscious whiff of slight-rotting land life, grass, leaves, seeds, shit -and bright light of early summer, such as we can catch now. And little tames this Imp like that – save adding a wind, beaten wing, greeny dew and (occasional) sparkled flower. The woods behind my home, from 8 to 18, fed my otherlife, my not-school, my not-boys, my not-1980s.

But now, the seagulls learn me new things. Uhuh; deliberate bad language, because it’s not about teachin’. I have them purr down my chimney. And they beguile. They skwall o’er my roof and hard-core, rude, worse than any mother-in-law, demand entry at the window. We – with mutual annoyance – talk.

I think we’re becoming friends.

PS – here’s a more exciting one…

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