Monday, February 14, 2011

Sentinel

(based on suggestions by @johnnypurple and Aimee)

We have taken a needle to what the rain brings.

Suburban soldiers peck out their weeks,

Guarding our blood with a flurry of wings.


First Thursday of each month, and it clings

to the air like a virus. Assess the red streaks.

We have taken a needle to what the rain brings.


Mosquitoes blur out in a spray of stings,

Unfurl a proboscis from the rivers and creeks.

Guarding our blood with a flurry of wings.


Unaware of quiet arrows and slings,

We trust them with our outrageous techniques,

Guarding our blood with a flurry of wings.


Can that tiny bright head encompass such things?

Humble solutions sleep beneath feathered cheeks.

We have taken a needle to what the rain brings.


Beside a cool hills hoist, an old woman sings,

Ain’t nobody here but a fortress of beaks.

We have taken a needle to what the rain brings,

Guarding our blood with a flurry of wings.


______________________

This poem is a villanelle, as requested by @johnnypurple, which is essentially five tercets and one concluding quatrain, where the rhyme structure is ABA (ABAA in the quatrain), with lines 1 and 3 repeated at specified points. Note to self: next time choose words that have more rhymes available than 'wings' and 'beaks'.

Sentinel chickens are used to monitor mosquito-born virus levels in areas prone to eg. Ross River fever, Barham Forest virus, flavivirus and kunjin. By regularly testing the blood of these chickens that live in people's backyards, the threat of these viruses to humans is monitored. You can read more about sentinel chickens here. Aimee told me about them yesterday. They've been using them since 1974 - how had I not heard about this earlier? Onward, chicken soldiers!

2 comments:

nixwilliams said...

love the subject and the form! (there is something so delightful, soothingly repetitive about the villanelle... rather like chooks!)

Anna said...

:)
Chooks ARE soothing, aren't they? Bworrrrrrk bok bok bok.