A Head Full of Budgerigars
I am bombarded by birdsong. It floats above the gossip from the kitchen, the scholarly conversation in the dining room. The blackbirds and finches, tits and swallows, swell their tiny lungs to compete with the clatter of cutlery banging around in metal sinks and white china stacked noisily on wooden shelves. One brave blackbird lands on a pot of weeds and sings her heart out. ‘Come on Black Betty,’ I whisper. A fine, almost imperceptible rain falls on my face. I lick the dust and soft mountain water from my lips – water that escapes down hillsides and into rivers and on to the sea. For a moment, I can smell the salty air and hear the laughing of the stupid gulls. I lived by the sea, once upon a time.
I want to speak but my tongue feels fat and dry in my mouth. I’m scared that if I part my lips,
my tongue will flop out. But the words are bubbling to the surface and they have to be set free. They burst out of me like a jet of steam – I feel embarrassed – I want to gather up the words and shove them back down my throat. I know that I’m just an uneducated girl – a fish in a frock, swimming upstream.
They said we must have a sense of place. I have that, I’ve nailed that one – or maybe it’s a sense of no place that I know so profoundly.
‘You have a story to tell – so tell it.’
So I will. I will give it wings, let it circle in the parchment sky.