We used to climb the thorn trees when we were boys
And annoy the weavers building their summer nests.
I always kept my shoes on. You were older,
Your footholds surer, scrambling up on palms and soles
Dusted gold with pollen. You found where the birds
Were at work. They were spinning dry grass into globes
That would float on the breeze like lanterns, brazening
In a haze of sun that matched the yellow coattails
Of the males. They wore black masks too—like children
In a dress-up game. Below, I wondered if they
Were just playing house, not really building them.
“Why make nests on a branch when you could fly instead?”
I once said. You answered, “They know when it’s time
To start finding mates, to settle down and lay eggs.”
When we next came, chicks were already hatching.
They made matchmaking look easy. I think back now,
Wonder how I might have learnt it. While you watched
Them, I watched you, my foothold slipping from the tree.
Words by Stephen Turton, Artwork by Millie Dean-Lewis