Beverley Fitzgerald has been a writer from an early age. A childhood spent in rural South East Queensland fostered a lifelong interest in Nature with birds being a particular fascination.
During a long professional Social Work career, Beverley continued her writing alongside the many other tasks of life. Her poems have been published in Hecate and short stories in collections and magazines as well as online. Contemporary circumstances have given more time to review her extensive collection of poems.
This selection epitomises Bev’s love of birds and the richness they have brought to her life. At the same time, this selection reminds us of the environmental and climatic issues now threatening many essential habitats as well as the extinction of those precious species which rely on them. Yet, the works aim for more than this. They seek to highlight the joy and comfort birds can bring to each of us. Knowing birds helps us to hold onto hopefulness. They show us there is a natural order of how we are meant to live and offer a calm, healing refl ection when we choose to observe the Unbounded Air of birds.
The first time I saw a wedge-tailed eagle
I was young. My Dad, who shot any raptor
that threatened his chickens,
had pulled in for petrol and ice-cream.
The shop was a ramshackle
sell-everything country store.
Hey, he said, as he pumped fuel,
have a look at these wedgies.
There were two – in a home-made cage
of reinforced steel
you might use for concreting.
Fierce, dark brown eyes blazing.
Shoulders big and strong like knobs of rock
to power the great wings
that lay folded and cramped
in a pose of misuse and misery.
The feathers on their muscled legs,
once soft as down,
now stuck with muck
grubby and tattered.
Amazed at their black talons
huge like no thorn I had ever seen.
Long, strong, hooked around the wood.
It was then I saw
the two thin leather straps
tethering them to their prison perch
Why are they tied up, Dad?
Training, maybe. I asked, for what?
Today, on this crystalline Autumn day
my daughter and her daughters
and I lie on the grassy hillside, chatting –
a neighbour calls
12 o’clock: Wedgies!
Two wedge-tailed eagles
drift and soar
swooning the sky
their wide wings finger-feathered
spread like side fans.
Lifted by invisible thermals,
they draw circles in the blue,
spiraling, gliding on the warm air
weathering without effort
the fluctuations and turbulence.
We watch, and keep watching
mesmerized until our necks ache,
our eyes water; we marvel
at their majesty, their freedom,
their ownership of all they survey.
As the blue light softens
they slip north over the forest.
No tethers, no guns –
two monarchs of Nature’s realm
in charge of their unbounded air.