penthouse apartment - David J Kelly

COVID-19 has been disrupting our daily routine for some time. I’m spending more time looking at the outside world. From my breakfast vantage point I’ve been following the progress of two building projects: a magpie nest, in our neighbour’s garden, and a loft extension, a few houses down.

spring skeletons
covering the bare bones
leaf and blossom

The magpies started first; they’ve been collecting material for a couple of weeks. One of the pair – my wife insists it’s the male – hasn’t quite got the hang of the job yet. He keeps bringing in such big sticks that it takes most of his energy to thread them through the outer branches. By the time he gets to the nest he’s exhausted and struggles to knit his outsize contribution into the structure.

rough and ready
dried crumbs of mortar
in the brickie’s tea

The builders made impressive progress with the loft extension. One day a fringe of tiles was removed, the next, the whole roof was gone. The sun shone, the radio blared and a new gable end appeared. The next day there were fewer workmen and no radio. As if to compensate, one of the builders offered his own a capella renditions of golden oldies. I heard no calls for an encore.

a row
by any other name
crow’s caw

Movement restrictions have been tightened yet again. The builders came this morning and covered the roof in a huge plastic sheet. It looks rather like a cocoon, but I doubt there’ll be any change inside it for some time. The magpies have stopped too, though their nest looks complete. I can’t see a bird sitting, but in this cooler weather they might be snuggled down.

egg tooth*
chick’s first meal
the taste of freedom


* a version of this haiku appeared in Kokako #26 (2017)

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