The swallows in Saint Peter’s Square

The swallows refuse to assist
My eye’s dismissal, tip toeing in the air
Like the minnows, suspended in the stream

Of the moment, they hover then let go
And descend to slowly rise again, no flying monk
Could pull and allow his bells to topple

Roll over so eloquently as these unconscious ballerinas of the air.

The priests that flow in pairs from St Peters sway out across the square
And hardly lift their heads toward these tiny pendulums of flight
They grip their rosaries against the risk of an uncertain sky

And turn down the avenue in files; fluttering rags of darkness toward approaching night.

And as always I remain in this apricot-smudged square of Rome
And love to watch this autumnal show, the departure of the swallows
Signalled by their silent play, my eyes a little saddened

Want their farewell to be over quickly, my mind tucking away their salutations
But my heart tugs against this dismissal, hypnotised
By this continual swinging rhythm, a serenade to autumn

A flock of birds’ last ballet in the changing rusts of light
Through a crowded gateway, time threaded for the traveller’s eyes.

Luke Whitington

Luke Whitington lives in Sydney and Canberra. He has been published in journals and newspapers in Ireland and Australia.

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