Going into a room upstairs, I remember
two white pigeons I saw in Ravenna.
How they startled with life,
orange claws gripping the stone rim
of a bowl on a wall in a mausoleum.
For fifteen centuries one has dipped
its beak to drink cool aquamarine;
the other’s turned towards a cobalt sky.
What will soothe the cooped pigeons?
In a book I look at the hundreds of tessarae,
follow the shadow lines beneath
wings, the breasts shaped by fingers;
think of two hands blue-rivered
with veins, papered with skin, cupping
the feather softness over beating hearts.
Then I see faces grazed by fear,
slippered feet scrambling up a hill,
a bag of seed split and scattered,
birds’ wings frantic behind mesh,
an old man coffined in mud.
– Myra Schneider
from ‘Exits’ (Enitharmon 1994)
previously published in ‘The Observer’
‘Klaonica, Poems for Bosnia’ (Bloodaxe 1993)
and broadcast on ‘Stanza’ Radio 4 in 1994
© 2009, poem, portrait (below), and book cover art (below), Myra Schneider, All rights reserved and presented here with the permission of the poet.
Photo (Pigeon) courtesy morgueFile
MYRA SCHNEIDER ~ is a poet, a poetry and writing tutor, and the author of Writing My Way Through Cancer and, with John Killick, Writing Your Self. Her poetry collections, Circling the Core and Multiply the Moon, were published by Enitharmon Press. She has eight published collections. Her most recent work What Women Want was published earlier this year by Second Light Publications.
Myra’s long poems have been featured in Long Poem Magazine and Domestic Cherry. She co-edited with Dilys Wood, Parents, an anthology of poems by 114 women about their own parents. She started out writing fiction for children and teens. We first discovered Myra through her much-loved poem about an experience with cancer, The Red Dress, which she generously shared with readers here in our Perspectives on Cancer series in 2011.
Currently Myra lives in North London, but she grew up in Scotland and in other parts of England. She lives with her husband and they have one son. Myra tutors through Poetry School, London. Her schedule of poetry readings is HERE.