The new year
began for us
with a dead magpie
spangled in the road.
skipped into my head,
of One for sorrow
and two for joy.
Woe lay done-for
in our peripherals,
the flat bird already
like newspaper print.
Only these past years
could take a death
and turn it so well
into a good omen.
The missionaries came to try and save me
up the narrow alleyway to our house
where the cat killed and plucked a pigeon,
leaving the wings to brush up the mess.
They came with badges and email addresses,
it was all free, but I still wasn’t buying
and sent them back that narrow way,
watching them step over detached wings.
When you have waited a life for signs
that your time is now, you settle
for those left behind that say it’s over,
like the shop that still uses letterheads
from a previous broken business
that treated you well, knew your name
or the blue communal carpet of the train
that only shows grey hairs in its weft.
In the train window, all is doubled –
a cup becomes a figure of eight, the tea
inside it tastes twice as bitter, but I am
not so clearly cloned, like my ghost
hovers always an inch outside my body
so I am both the haunter and haunted.
Richie McCaffery grew up in Northumberland and now lives in Stirling, Scotland. He has been a Carnegie scholar and a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Glasgow and is busy finishing a PhD in Scottish Literature on the Scottish poets of World War Two. He is the author of two poetry pamphlets, including Spinning Plates (HappenStance Press, 2012) as well as the 2014 collection Cairn from Nine Arches Press. He is slowly editing and collecting poems for another pamphlet.