Starlings in Winter, David Memmott

Amy Casey, Deep Deep Down, 2018, Acrylic on Panel, 30″ X 30″




They come down in a whiteout from
emptiness out of which all things come
their faces a fearful frottage rubbed

from the bare branches until they breathe fire.
They come down from the dissolving edge
of the storm, hit and run marauders

disinvited to the dance for blowing holes
in the dancefloor. Ravenous hordes
black as ravens exposed by downfall.

Blackened pits of shriveled skulls
enameled with cool salve to stanch the wound
spidery tentacles of ice-slick limbs

dream the flicker back from his snag
a whirlwind whirling until the oxygen
runs out, forgets more than forgives.

They come down in a whiteout to overrun
the benign rule of robins, with bickering beaks
and cold blades they raid the nest left too long

unprotected. Where have they gone, friendly pips
of the downy woodpecker, into some implicate order
with the willow warbler and the rosy finch?

Starlings in winter come down in a whiteout
fall out of the sky like cold meteors
burning black holes into white foam

dead diatom shells settling to the bottom
as I pull myself breathless to the surface
just waiting for the great thaw to begin.

David Memmott


Review by Jared Pearce

My father was always raging against the starlings, pointing out their awfulness probably more than was actually just. At any rate, the descriptions of the birds are very much in-line with his considerations of the birds. I like the images, the contrasts, the alliterative gusts that blow about in the poem, just like the birds descending from the cold-front—and then how the speaker himself ascends, in a sort of inverted-bird motion, at once similar to the starlings, but also opposite.

Scroll to Top