ohara koson 1945
Instructions for painting a bird in six steps
by Fokkina McDonnell

Let your shadow be present. Someone needs to interpret their dreams.
First paint or draw a circle, as many claw prints as your years. Soot is fine. Work clockwise.
Call, chirrup, caw, chirp, chatter – wake your inner aviary.
Black ink is needed and tears. It cannot be rushed.
Use one hand. You may change hands when your fingers are cramped, like a talon.
Hunger. Fatigue. This is their life – hunting on the wing for insects, grub, the odd vole.

PAINTING: Geese at full moon (detail) by Ohara Koson (1945).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Doing a writing course The Avian Eye, I’ve become obsessed with birds, researching online: migration, the behaviour of cuckoo, the cleverness of crows.

McDonnell

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dutch-born Fokkina McDonnell has two poetry collections (Another life, Oversteps Books Ltd, 2016; Nothing serious, nothing dangerous, Indigo Dreams Publishing Ltd, 2019) and a pamphlet A Stolen Hour (Grey Hen Press, 2020). Her poems have been widely published and anthologized. She received a Northern Writers’ Award from New Writing North in 2020. Visit her on Twitter and at acaciapublications.co.uk.