The Magpie

The Magpie

by Chris Biles

The bell tolls in the chambers of your heart
when you open your eyes from a waking dream
to the bare, smooth branches of a white, dead tree,
and that malignant magpie perched at the end
of the tallest branch, shoulders hunched, ruffled,
a shudder, an extension of the twisted, white wood:
its clawing shadow.

The bird cocks its head to fix your frightened figure
in sight of its left eye, a gleam of the half-light
making the depth impossible to fathom.
Tilting its beak back, a gagging motion, a shriek
is loosed to mingle with the daggers of cold wind
howling past your eardrums, a ragging sea within
a shell.

Derail the senses, for the dryness and the taste
of wool within your mouth will forever distract you,
and the racing of your thoughts will only lead you
down the road to oblivion.
Derail the senses and leap away into space,
open your mind to the potential of pain.

As your heart beats to the bellowing of the bell,
close your eyes and leap,
fall without fear into another dream, another realm,
and just hope that when next your eyes open,
it won’t be to the sight of a white, dead tree clawing
at the sky, nor its half-shadow hunched high above.