Last evening, we stood and watched a flock of house martins fuelling up for their migration to Africa for the winter. There must have been three or four hundred of these little annual visitors darting around the sky in pursuit of insects in a swirling, twittering cloud. It was a wonderful sight, but it was my nine-year-old daughter who really inspired this poem.
They gather at dusk
To feast on insects
Lofted by summer’s failing warmth:
A Last Supper snatched
Before the big sky swallows them
And instinct fills their hearts
With longing for a glaring shore
Where winter cannot come.
My little one, her face upraised,
Following my finger, watching,
Calls out softly, ‘Goodbye – I’ll miss you.’
And I think on things that, once departed,
Will not come back again.