Magpie and Philosopher

by Geoff Page

Geoff Page

for Alex Phemister

Ah yes, Galileo.
Funny you should mention him.
Primary and secondary

properties, yes?
The teacher rubs his beard.
You know they don't exist, of course,

the secondaries, that is,
tastes and colours, smells and touch?
They're all in the "perceiving creature",

Galileo said,
and if we were removed somehow
or lost our senses, all but sight,

the world itself would be
just soundless shapes,
completely colourless forever

or monochrome at best...
It was the final day in August,
session 1 at 9:15

the stragglers were all in now
and as he talked the colours drained away,
the vivid greens, the easy creams,

and all they saw
was a moving mouth,
a visible transparency.

The hasty taste of marmalade
on uncleaned teeth
was gone as well

as was the smell of dust on heaters;
an unseen cold was coming in
until, outside, a flowering cherry

its buds about to burst
received a magpie in its limbs
a sudden, glossed, substantial bird

which on its trampolining branch
a metre from the glass
let fly with all its frosty notes

and so brought back the world.

Last updated February 21, 2023