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.