Katherine Mansfield

(14 October 1888 – 9 January 1923 / Wellington)

When I was a Bird Poem by Katherine Mansfield


I climbed up the karaka tree
Into a nest all made of leaves
But soft as feathers.
I made up a song that went on singing all by itself
And hadn't any words, but got sad at the end.
There were daisies in the grass under the tree.
I said just to try them:
"I'll bite off your heads and give them to my little
children to eat."
But they didn't believe I was a bird;
They stayed quite open.
The sky was like a blue nest with white feathers
And the sun was the mother bird keeping it warm.
That's what my song said: though it hadn't any words.
Little Brother came up the patch, wheeling his barrow.
I made my dress into wings and kept very quiet.
Then when he was quite near I said: "Sweet, sweet!"
For a moment he looked quite startled;
Then he said: "Pooh, you're not a bird; I can see
your legs."
But the daisies didn't really matter,
And Little Brother didn't really matter;
I felt just like a bird.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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