A sparrow flits through the hall,
its hubbub of feasting men,
the meaty, fuggy, smoke of them.
A spell of warmth and hearth,
post to post, high perch,
a crossbeam bird’s-eye view –
head cocked to reckon it,
the mead-hall din below.
Jocular glut, jostling stories,
battle-talk and rut; crumbs
among the rushes, toppled cup,
the hanging cauldron’s heat.
Mark the sparrow’s pause, now
the slanting rain it tumbled from
has ceased to beat. This quieting –
breath upon a pipe, the click
of deer-horn dice. Sky-sough,
a sigh of flakes upon the thatch.
in the fire’s glow. A fan of feathers,
wing-flex, flight: bird-blink,
up and out into the night,
the mystery and purity of snow.
Isobel Dixon’s collections include “Bearings” (Nine Arches Press). “A Whistling of Birds” is due to be published in 2023
This article appears in the 18 May 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Putin vs Nato