Moniza Alvi



Motherbird and Her Life So Far


She pecks at the grains and sorts them into piles.

Some she relishes.

Some she doesn’t want to think about very much.

A few she doesn’t recognise.

So many grains! Such a long life!

Sorting, sorting, shifting to a different pile
and back again.

Starting a completely new pile.

All the marked and subtle differences.

The going astray. So much has gone astray that she’ll
never get back again.

Or perhaps she will, a little of it.

If she pecks for long enough she might find
the exact grain she’s looking for.


Now the grains are her companions.

Her eyesight is still quite good.

Something gleams. A jewel!




Motherbird’s Ornament


The glass bird sits

open-beaked on a glass branch –
its head lifted towards the light.
Her guardian, it will not fly away


until she has flown – when it also
will surely be gone.
For a glass bird,
living, dying, transparency –

nothing is too hard.



Moniza Alvi was born in Pakistan and grew up in Hertfordshire. Her most recent poetry book At the Time of Partition (Bloodaxe, 2013) focused on the partition of India and Pakistan and her family history and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. A new collection Blackbird, Bye Bye is in preparation. She lives in Norfolk where she tutors for the Poetry School.

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