Updated: May 28, 2021
Birdshooting season the men make marriages with their guns My father’s house turns macho as from far the hunters gather All night long contentless women stir their brews: hot coffee chocolata, cerassie wrap pone and tie-leaf for tomorrow’s sport. Tonight the men drink white rum neat. In darkness shouldering their packs, their guns, they leave We stand quietly on the doorstep shivering. Little boys longing to grow up birdhunters too Little girls whispering: Fly Birds Fly.
The persona (likely a young girl due to their attention to the details of the women's emotions) describes the beginning of birdshooting season. Men gather from far and wide to the house of the persona's father, influencing an atmosphere of manliness and machismo. The preparations of both the men and the women are described through the eyes of the child. Women prepare tea and coffee for these hunters and make food for them as they set forth on this seasonal exodus, with neither thanks nor acknowledgement. The little boys all dream of becoming birdhunters like their fathers, while the little girls encourage the bids to fly away, as though hoping that they themselves, like the birds will escape the fearsome grasp of the birdhunting men and the resulting cycle. The themes include gender roles, nature and childhood experiences. The mood is reflective.
"Birdshooting season the men make marriages with their guns"
The poem begins with the titular phrase 'birdshooting season,' communicating a yearly/seasonal time period during which men go out for shooting birds. The poet uses a combination of alliteration and metaphor in "men make marriages with their guns." The repetition of the deep, manly 'm' sound sets up birdshooting season as a time meant mostly for the enjoyment of men and for them to display their male prowess. The metaphor 'make marriages with their guns' conveys the care and attention they give to their guns, as though actually marrying them. Thus, they prioritize the condition of their guns, doting on them like in marriage- as they are they are the primary tools they need to work in union with for birdshooting.
"My father’s house turns macho as from far the hunters gather"
The persona's father's house 'turns macho' with the influx of several men. To be 'macho' is to be manly in an excessively aggressive or assertive way, so it appears that with the flocking of men from far and wide to one home, their masculinity has built upon one another's, becoming more and more assertive to the point of machismo.
"All night long contentless women stir their brews: hot coffee chocolata, cerassie wrap pone and tie-leaf for tomorrow’s sport. Tonight the men drink white rum neat."
The women are describes here as 'contentless,' meaning they are dissatisfied or unhappy. This is likely due to the fact that they must stay up all night preparing the beverages and food for these men without thanks, only for them to depart for a long period of time to shoot birds. As the men have made marriages with their guns, they have neglected care for their wives and children. The women must stock them up with food and drink year after year without acknowledgement from their husbands. The poem alludes to a slew of traditional Caribbean drinks and foods, and it is said that the men drink 'white rum neat,' meaning white rum undiluted at full strength. This again communicates the assertive machismo of the men, showing off their masculine resistance to strong alcohol.
"In darkness shouldering their packs, their guns, they leave"
The men now leave in the darkness of early morning carrying the guns they so dearly cherish and the packs holding food and drink. There is no mention of acknowledging anyone other than themselves.
"We stand quietly on the doorstep shivering. Little boys longing to grow up birdhunters too Little girls whispering: Fly Birds Fly."
Shivering in the cold morning air, boys seem to idolize the birdhunting men, hoping to become like them in the future. By contrast, the girls hope for the birds to fly away, whispering encouragement for them to escape. This reflects a more empathetic and caring sentiment that is contrary to the aggressive masculinity of the men. This could also be because birdshooting takes their fathers away for a simple sport, and they can see themselves in the birds, being grasped by an endless cycle surrounding a ritual of birdshooting for the enjoyment of men.