on a sunny autumn morning in central London
in a lecture hall
a grown man who claimed to be a scientist
stood up and explained
to us all
looking at the facts
from a strictly biological viewpoint
a bird's wings
are its capital.
Money that is.

I begged to differ.
In fact I begged and begged
but it took some time
before the chairman
was able to acknowledge my
frantic gesticulations
and invite me to speak
and you know how
in the grip of strong passions
it can be difficult
for a lady
to order her thoughts
in a few brief seconds.

But this is what I wanted to say:

A bird's wings
are its birthright.
The bugger comes out of the egg
all damp and ruffled
with baby wings already attached.
It doesn't have
to work in a hamburger restaurant
or wash glasses in a nightclub
in order to earn them.
It doesn't have
to con, manipulate or terrorise
any other bird
into handing over its pair.
They're there right from the beginning
and as it grows
they grow with it.
They get sleeker and more powerful
and when the time comes
the bird just stretches them right out
and takes to the sweet summer air.

It's a bird's job
to fly and sing
and in all my days
on this earth
I have never heard
birds exercising their
granted rather small brains
about wing shortage
as a justification
for doing some weaker birds
out of their birthrights.
I have just never seen
one great bustard with six pairs of wings
it doesn't need
while six other poor bustards
have no recourse or choice but
to hop.

Sandra Smith

Home | Common Words