by Josephine Haslam

The truth is, it was only part white;

the albino blackbird that came to your garden

two winters ago – but into my head

comes this ghost of a bird, shadowless,

a white absence, blind negative


in the snow. No reflection glides

over the lake where he flies, light and boneless,

no sound from his throat.


And though you say they never survive; the rare

or different, destroyed by their own kind

I see how he speeds out of the distance,

gathers weight, and darkens, over the miles

till he meets his own blackness, grows


into lustre; blackbryd, ouzel, merle

who quickens the heart as he sings

each night from our gate-post;

his mouth’s open crocus, his eye ringed with gold.