Introduction Foreword Writing Together Coping Within The System Coping On My Own Coping With Teenagers Coping With Relationships Live Performance

Mary O’Dwyer

Fear of Birds

It’s the sudden appearance of a moving force,
Unexpected fluttering of wings;
Feathers tightly packed, yet easily removed.
It’s the powdery fluff that dust-traps my eyes
As the wings part their aerodynamic arms.

Curved beaks open when eyes see me,
As the vultures I saw at Regent’s Park Zoo –
Claws, jaws, haw-haw.

The screech of impending death.

Clumps of fresh meat strung on trees.

Dumb pigeons dropping shit-bombs on my head.

It’s the claustrophobic
Air aerobics
Closing me in wings.

Hawk eyes ogling down from above.
Where’s the peaceful dove,
Sleeping like a book?

If I had seen robins or wrens,
Heard the music of nightingales,
Surveying the gentle soaring
Jet-setting in carefree swoops,
I would love birds.


‘I was born in 1963. I was brought up in children’s homes until I was 16, then I was fostered for two years. I went on to qualify as a psychiatric nurse. At 32, I was diagnosed with bi-polar-affective disorder. I have written poetry for many years, and this poem, as well as the poems on pages 46 and 62 are taken from a collection called ‘Coat of Blanket Dreams’. This is a poem that I wrote for my psychoanalyst."