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Jo Brandon: a poem

The Sky, signed by you

You have taken to painting birds

on post-it-note-sized canvases that flock

on the walls as if they were telegraph wires.

You sit still for hours, your brush nib

licked thinner than a dial painter's.

I brought you in a cup of tea and a biscuit, asked

what makes you paint them so exclusively

and you replied to the air, to yourself

really, that you love the delicacy

of their fragile bones, the idea that

a steady hand can clasp the frantic beating

of a whole body, beak sharp, feathers soft,

our desire to capture them as great as their need

for flight. The way we do not figure

in their lives unless nature has been odd,

the way they trick us into each new morning

with safe old, air-strung songs. You sigh.

Your breath wavers. Did you form a note?

You would have thought I was making fun

had I asked that too. I want so badly to see myself

painted astride the back of one of your birds,

but that's not the sort of thing you'd do.

Jo Brandon was born in 1986 and raised in rural Lincolnshire. She currently lives in West Yorkshire. Her pamphlet, Phobia, was published in 2012 and her full-length collection, The Learned Goose, in 2015, both with Valley Press. Her third book, Cures, is due out 2021. Jo is former Editor of Cadaverine and her work has featured in various magazines and anthologies including Butcher’s Dog, The North, Poetry Review, Popshot, Strix, Magma, Dream Catcher, Words for the Wild and Dear Damsels.


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