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This poem was once a bird

Eagle, Kingfisher

– Poetry by Esther Muthoni Wafula –

This poem was once a bird

This poem was once a bird
An eagle in fact
Whose span of wing
And accurate sight
Was the stuff that legend makes.

What crisis, then
Or rendezvous with fate
Brought her to this peculiar place
Spellbinding with its motes of dust

Where endings and beginnings
Garlands and paraphernalia
Mortgages and taxes
Dance around each other
Like mere trivia
At the hinge of history?

This poem was once a bird
Now a woman of forty-five
Her feathers fluttering
Betwixt and between
The ground sturdy and certain
Like a stone
And the sky open and curious
Like a bowl.

Where will she go next
On this journey
Whose novelty has worn off
But whose unraveling
Continues to surprise
Like the incredulous tales
That red wine tells
After years of recalcitrant silence?

Return of the Kingfisher

Kingfisher, Kingfisher
You of royal azure and orange flair
You returned unannounced
To the slow-moving river
And the fresh water
That bid me turn right
When I meant to go left.

Kingfisher, Kingfisher
You of peerless sight and steadfast gaze
You perched on my head uninvited
Along with fireflies
And stinging nettles
Demanding I reckon
With all I had strived to forget.

Kingfisher, Kingfisher
You of large head and short tail
They say your lustre dazzles
Less than the peacock’s
But what do they know
They who poke holes
Into everything sacred?

Kingfisher, Kingfisher
You of dagger-like bill and flawless aim
You burrowed deep into my heart indifferent
To all the cold and brittle sand.
There you nest this winter
Your clutch of eggs a harbinger
Of all the change I long for.

About the Author – Esther Muthoni Wafula
Esther Muthoni Wafula

Esther Muthoni Wafula was born in Kenya in 1973. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Development Administration and Management from the University of Manchester, and has worked over the last 20 years in the humanitarian/non-profit sectors in Kenya, Mozambique, Angola and the United Kingdom. Esther currently lives in Kenya, working as an independent Monitoring and Evaluation specialist, monitoring donor funded projects. She is also pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from Daystar University in Nairobi. Esther is married and she is the mother of two young children.

Checkout Esther Muthoni Wafula’s journal paper, “Transforming career stories through poetry: a group-based career counselling intervention.”

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