In the misty English rain
of a late Essex afternoon
the robin sang his piercing melodies
near the kitchen door.
From the back step I watched him
stand near the twisty knots of ivy,
singing, singing, singing.
My landlady said he was staking
his territorial claim for his mate
in their nest inside the maze of hummocks
of thick woody tendrils
cowling the high stone wall.
She worried that a cat would catch them
or the fox seen by neighbours
scaling our walls at 3 am.
Robin had a bright orange breast,
a white belly, a tail pointing straight up behind him
and a subdued brown head and back.
He reminded me of the little fantail
of similar size and colouring
back in my home country.
Little piwakawaka calls shrilly
unafraid of nearby humans as he
searches for tasty insects, his tail fans
out as he hops from branch to branch.
I saw and heard robin only the once,
for a month later my work ran out
and I had to return home
halfway around the world
back to the home of the fantail.
In steady light rain
low clouds compress
the light’s dull glare.
The blackbird’s feathers
sparkle under their fine cloak
of minute droplets.
His chuckles and shrieks of glee
from the clothesline pole
fill the garden as he raises
his head, half spreads his wings
in the sensual joy
of the tiny moist diamonds.
Ancient insect emerged from the primeval bush,
you are caught up in today’s surge of humanity,
swept into our urban gardens.
Crickets and grasshoppers from foreign countries
jostle and crowd you in the gardens where
city birds hunt you, though wary of
your barbed back legs, your sharp nipping teeth.
The feline immigrants who luxuriate in
the comfort of our homes also
hunt your in our gardens.
Your brown armour blends into
the branches of hedge and shrub,
your barbed back legs grip twigs
as you jump along searching
for leafy delicacies.
But still the tabby hunter
sometimes finds you and deposits
sad corpses on the floors inside.
Grandad would like to tell her
that you are a protected species
of ancient lineage.
He has no way telling her,
her collar bell gives you no warning.
A weta is similar in size and shape to a cricket, but unrelated.
It is native to New Zealand.