Making Book

Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings –

they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.

Thus Craig Raine in his 1979 poem “A Martian sends a postcard home”.

I myself have known one or two Caxtons to fly: many a schoolmaster delighted in throwing the book at their recalcitrant pupils’ head. As I remember it young boys, being attacked by such a bird were more likely to shriek without pain, rather than to allow their eyes to melt — unless they laughed so hard they’d weep. The lot of a schoolmaster was ever a tough one. The Caxton’s multiple wings do often flutter invitingly when you are reading in the open air, and one in the hand is definitely preferable to any number in the bush. Being left out…

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