HOLDING COURT by Wendy Blaxland

At night she sleeps on cardboard

near the concrete station entrance.


In the daylight she holds court

among hungry birds massed in the park,

like a queen with paper bags

of rich crusts, showers of crumbs.


The seagulls and the cockatoo mob

squall and squabble and beg.


They dip their bright-eyed heads

and jockey for position,

worshipping the old bird-woman

in her lumpy, faded robes.


Then she plumps to sit on the bench,

showing them her empty hands,

replete with her feast of gratitude.

When they see the food is gone,

the birds rise in a flurry of feathers,

leaving her surrounded by droppings,

and a few curved feathers like jewels.


In the wild kingdom of this park,

ruler and subjects are well content.


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