It must have rooted by stealth,
grew up hiding in plain sight
beside the bunkered sub-police station,
opposite the crazy roundabout,
nourished by car fumes.
An evergreen with ample branches
and dense foliage, an asset now as it parasols
police sentries in the cauldron heat.
Crepuscular skies seethe with sparrows,
no fancy murmurations but hordes
returning from their pitches all over Luxor
to roost in this tenement tree.
First comers win premium cover nearest the trunk.
Others budge up along the outer boughs
where thick leaves still provide camouflage.
Full capacity reached, late arrivals must make the best
of overflow trees that line the central verge,
straggly specimens with sparse foliage,
where clustering birds create their own cover.
And their racket,
the same universal clatter as in our garden,
here reducing the screeches of carriage boys hawking rides,
the Adham’s rasping top notes; to undertones,
then sudden silence like a choir’s clean cut-off.
As night fills in the sky, beneath the tree police officers
sag on squad car bonnets; draw on fags, chat, yawn,
AK 47s slung over their shoulders like rucksacks.
If you have any
thoughts on this poem, Fiona
Sinclair would be pleased to hear them.