The Chamber


One ear to chimney-breast, on bended knee, better to hear

trapped wing-beats, he prized ajar the black ornate

cast hood. Then, slid his arm inside the flue.

As though one gloved limb were deeply sunk

in hind-quarters of a cow, to guide the head in utero.

Though here, no calf in hairy smear or bloody stink

was sensed. First, soot sprinkled rolled up sleeve

of shirt; his thumb and fingers gripped wiry claws

and held. Down, gently, drew his haul into the room.

Disheveled. Stained. Feathery mass weighed his hands.

He cupped the ample beating heart and walked.

The bird was fond of warmth, or slightly stunned.

For seconds brooded. Then, lifted wings and hopped

onto the window ledge. And flew. A freed white dove.

Catherine Phil MacCarthy’s latest collection is The Invisible Threshold ( Dedalus Press )