Magpie Eye

Of all the ancient stares of birds,
the one that leaves me lost for words
is the magpie’s when it looks askance
while pecking at the grass and plants
in our wild garden. I watch him plucking
worms from muddy soil and chatting
in his raucous voice. I tell him not to speak,
at least not with a brimming beak,
but his shiny eye is like a laser
and birds are ancient, so much wiser,
that I step away, go backwards slowly.
I accept the magpie, although not holy,
deserves reverence from his feathered birth
until his last breath on this place called Earth.

Kim M. Russell, 15th March 2021

black and white bird during daytime

My response to earthweal weekly challenge: The Animal Gaze

I enjoyed Brendan’s description of black vultures on dumpsters, and his encounter with an eagle, a bird I’ve only ever seen at a zoo, and a hawk, which I have seen from a distance and on the arm of a bird handler. His essay on the animal gaze made me think about animals with which I have been in starting contests – not that many, mostly my pets and animals that visit our garden.

I love all precious encounters with animals, and I have enjoyed this week’s challenge very much, the essence of which is what animals are looking for and what are they seeing, which Brendan calls ‘the animal gaze’. He asks us to write about encounters with that gaze; what we share with it and how we differ; how we can understand it; and what it reads in us. As inspiration, he has shared one of Reiner Maria Rilke’s Eighth Duino Elegy.

I had just finished writing my poem when I heard the magpie in the garden – he must have known!

Image by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash

26 thoughts on “Magpie Eye

    1. Thanks Ron! I wrote a piece of flash fiction about a magpie this morning, for an ekphrastic writing contest. The magpie is still about somewhere in the garden.


  1. I love your poem and envy you magpies in your garden. I dont know if I have mentioned it to you, but one of the best movies I have seen lately is Penguin Bloom, true story of a magpie who lived with a family in Australia after the mother had suffered a severe accident. This small intelligent bird had such an impact on the family. They are very smart as the bird who played the part of the original bird did all the same things. A mesmerizing movie which I have watched again a few more times. You would LOVE it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kim. I have a soft spot for magpies, we have one in our garden, and they are intelligent birds. Have you seen The film ‘Penguin Bloom’, which is about a family’s relationship with a teacher magpie.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We do have a lot of fat balls and different types of birds seed hanging all around our garden. Our magpie has been visiting for a long time – if it’s the same one.


  2. Kim, this is a wonderful poem but I find it surreal that I have just listened to you read it on the You Tube link and been able to see you and so many others in person. You are all so inspiring. You certainly have mastery over the sonnet form and I would like to practise that more. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! The sonnet has always been my favourite form. I haven’t seen the YouTube recording yet, which is something I must do before I read and comment on everyone else’s poems!

      Liked by 1 person

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