For Mark Strand
He used to say: this ashen face, the strong skin over fragile bones, the hand trembling alone with no outward cause, the nose that drips what meagre elixir is left inside the skull, each gaze that returns shaken images to the sunken sockets, the belly that gurgles without food or water, the futility whose profound darkness makes equal rose and bullet, all of this means nothing. Nothing. The days and the nights and the heat and the cold could not dry the drops of my mother’s milk which lingered on my lips. I am still her favourite bird, who returns in spring with a straw in his mouth and rebuilds his abandoned nest.