Utu Man (27) The Bird-God
out of the chalky morning mist
embroidered with crowns of trees.
First it is a creviced claw
half-driven into the sand,
then four tips of mist-coloured wings,
twitching, falling low,
then a pair of sinewy hands
and a curved beak
encrusted with cherry-red nostrils.
Now the whole god comes out
to bristle and squawk,
to demand his pine seeds –
which are our days.
Breaking up cones of their futures,
the villagers queue in front of the Bird-God.
Everyone chooses his very worst days,
the bleak days of hunger and shame –
the god would husk them all the same,
the god would not tell the difference.
Besides, bitter seeds are all the Bird-God
has ever received,
to him these seeds must be sweet,
or he would not be coming here
year after year.
I take pity on the Bird-God
and take one of my most
eagerly awaited future days
out of a shallow basket,
a round, radiant, balmy seed,
gleaming with love-laden oil:
let him try something really sweet
before he remerges with rain and hail,
as for my own fate –
what is no longer anticipated
will never spoil.