This poem is taken from Stand 219, 16(3) August - September 2018.

Sue Riley Poem
Greenfinch Skull

Chloris chloris chloris.
skull small as a 50 pence piece.

Stare into the white face, recall the reveller’s mask at Carnival,
cloaked in the black Venice night, stars and lanterns
on water. Sharp malevolent beak; skeletal.

Its crown of pale bone shines like porcelain.
Empty eye sockets open on the cave of the skull,
beak parted as if it’s alive, a memory of movement.

Closer, the visible mechanics of this contraption
in miniature, where lower mandible
meets upper meets skull-base; cavity of the shell

where throat enters, where the syrinx sits.
Relic. Its fine framework of bone lies on my palm,
hardly registers its presence,

just a few grammes, cool where once a covering
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