Feathered fiend

One for sorrow

A fan of piebald primaries
Crow-picked, sun-stiffened
Woven through the rough grass of the headland.

Another woodpigeon
Downed by the hawk
Then butchered by Reynard

Or so I thought.
Until I caught
A single feather’s blue-green sheen

Shining like oil on water,
The glint in the keeper’s eye.
One for sorrow. Hello, Magpie.

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From Brittany #2

Word hunting

The words I seek
Don’t live in my town

But out here,
Wild,

Shining, sea-wet, in the sand
Flying in skeins

Resting on rocks
Or perched in trees

Half-seen out at sea
Or round sudden bends in the narrow cliff-path.

With the poacher’s patience
And fisherman’s finesse

I can catch them
Hold them for a moment

Before they wriggle free
Leaving only their warmth behind.

And a single juicy one in the bag
Is all it takes to feed me.

 

From Brittany #1

Il fait du brouillard

The blinded lighthouse
Calls out in the gloom
Its foghorn telling the misty minutes
Like a doleful speaking clock.

There’s a Hebridean sting of salt
In the sea-smoke wrapped around the headland
Like a scarf; and the summer beaches
Are veiled and secret, empty, Arctic white.

The gulls and waders could tell me
Where I am; beneath the sky-cloak
They chatter heedless, brash and jeering,
Safe in their local knowledge.

Not that I’m asking. A dog, the dunes
And the distant booming of the surf
On the reefs far out are all the signs I need:
I am here. Now. And all is well.