Oz Hardwick

When you arrived home late, you were a black bird: possibly a blackbird, but maybe a crow, a rook, or a raven – I’m no ornithologist and, besides, I’d never seen any of them this close, or even really looked at them before. When you pecked me on the cheek, it felt cold and hard, dangerous even, as if you may have snatched my tongue or my eye. I couldn’t think of a tactful way to broach the subject, so went to the kitchen to make tea and gather my thoughts; but by the time I returned, balancing a steaming mug and a plate of hob-nobs, you had gathered the soft furnishings, ornaments, and general clutter into an untidy nest, from which you stared with hungry yellow eyes. You snapped at crumbs, your slick gullet rippling as you swallowed, but left the coffee to go cold. I went to bed alone, my head a turmoil of feathers, niggling me into unwilling wakefulness, until I finally slipped. I woke with a jolt in a room full of red light and broken eggshells, to see you on the windowsill, sharp nails biting into wood, screaming at the glass in a language I’d never wanted to hear.

Oz Hardwick is a European writer working mostly in prose poetry and mostly in a state of troubled uncertainty. He has won many prizes – mostly raffles – and has trouble negotiating the debatable space between award and awkward. His new collection, A Census of Preconceptions, is due from SurVision Books late in 2022. Oz is Professor of Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University (UK) and can neither sing nor dance.



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