by | February 16, 2022

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