Sweeney’s Nest

by Philip Arnold

          An Irish King of Connaught, Sweeney was cursed
          and made to think he was a bird.

How I skimmed the battered air,
grazing Malduin’s magnificent goatee
on the battlefield of the Ui Faolain.

A near miss and again
a swoop for the delicate strand of hair
from my enemy’s chin,
                                      the hopedfor thread
that I would weave through the loom
of my nest, each circle

leveraged against the underneath
of Norwegian fir needle, Ulsterraid of fleece
and Connemara garden scrap.

Unperched, resolute,
I dreamt the spoil of incremental loft.

When the golden hair finally caught in my beak
fear throttled my throat:
                                         no song
could risk the hair unraveling into the mad air.

So I held in my silence the delicate thread
even as joy
                   shook my body
and I swallowed note
after note that would proclaim,