Tiresias and the Birds
The blind man in the park settles on a bench
guided by the hand of his daughter.
Aged, yes; dishevelled too some might say,
his eyes pure whitened pools of augery,
his fingers knotted sticks
of divination eager to reveal.
His daughter unwraps a parcel of food
and he examines this holy offering - its scent
and taste - regurgitating a mouthful
into the palm of his hand.
I watch this man, the ceremony of it all
his deep consideration in the eating,
the majesty of his gestures – a pullarius attuned
to the elemental, moulded by nature, re-moulding in return.
He stretches, reaches out, extends his tawny arms
to a half-obscured sun. The way she hovers over him
like Athena imparting a dream – not his daughter
at all I now see but his concubine, perhaps,
instilled with a devotional spirit to nurture and protect
or some form of muse – a doula comforting
by her very presence and this intrigues me, that a woman
so young can devote herself to a man so old, as if they are one.
The birds swoop and clatter, cluster around the bench.
He picks one out and it succumbs to his will
the eyes, beak, and claw-steps pinched for signs
of pollution, instances of profanation or miasma.
The park is alive now with the howling
of pious birdsong. Gannets and starlings squall the air,
lark-tails and tree-creepers stir the leaves.
And not only birds – dogs too slip their leash
settle themselves before him in adoration, their owners
mystified – helpless as a mute Attic chorus -
bewildered too as this strange assembly continues
until at last the seer brings down his fist
angered by a discovery of glutted impure blood
and the birds scatter - a feather-bomb detonated,
a sudden explosion of glittering wings - whereupon he,
with the help of his mysterious companion,
rises and says for all to hear: ‘Are you so blind
to the magic in this world ?’