Leo Vincent : Cuckoo in the Nest


I’ve stuffed my one chick on a diet of worm
and the sorts of small insects that robins like best.
But now it’s the size of a small pachyderm
and its wings hang far over both sides of my nest.
And it’s far from becoming a robin.

Its colouring, too, makes me ask myself whether
my efforts are wasted. For each day I think
that there’s less and less prospect that even one feather
is turning bright red yet -- or even pale pink --
to suggest it’s becoming a robin.

I’ve ruptured my larynx to teach it to chirp
in a twittering, chirruping, robinish trill.
But all I’ve got back is an ill-sounding “Burp.”
Still, I live with the hope that tomorrow it will
say “Cheep” and behave like a robin.

It’s a thankless grey heap. It’s the size of a Jeep.
It’s feathers aren’t red and its voice is too deep.
They say as you sow then that’s how you shall reap,
and I’ve sown all my love on this graceless young creep.
But I fear it requires more than one massive leap
of faith to believe it’s a robin.

 

Leo Vincent

(a version of this was published in 2012 in the Literary Review under the name of Leo Vincent's nom de plume.)