All afternoon you've been here
pecking around rocks
as though they were parts of some
knobbly slumbering beast
you're under orders to delouse.
You've flown in and out of the edge of my gaze
again and again, but I was bemused
by the wide blue sea and its
chandelier glitter, by ponderous pelicans
clubbing the waves with their beaks
by the wingtips of terns
by silent horizons
where time is discarded by dreams.
You scour the edge of the spectacular
drab in your wrapping of ashes and smoke
a quiet perimeter bird
whose heart never yearns
for a blue and white coach
for a place at the ball.
There's a meaning within you
a truth that you didn't invent
or even discover.
It's there, on the edge of my gaze
It has something to do
Sandpiper and Reflection
If it saw its companion
abstract as shadow
but feathered with replica tints
it might wonder
who moves and who mimes
and why does it fade where the sand is dry
and where does it go when I fly?
What world does it live in
this image of plumage and shank
that stabs the same prey
that skims the same path
across azure and gold
and breaks into rippling fragments
when the wind gusts
sudden and cold?
You carve your name
with stretch of wind on wingtip
Scream your prayer across the mud
The new waves moving in
to break on ancient rocks
that cannot be remembered
cannot be forgotten
High priest of mud
lord of silt and shallows
you ritualise with stillness
stir of wind and water
engrave the random with solemnity.
Through film of cloud and sun
past your own gaunt image
scanning plumes of sand
that bloom around your sunken toes.
At last your snake-neck strikes
tube of muscle
welded to a sharp barbaric beak.
Flash of wriggling silver
feeling of a thin high scream
then hinges open
and the supple peristaltic neck
implodes upon its prey.
ancient gallows taking wing
utter an indignant rusty "cronk"
and flap across the waves
your shadow trailing
like an unacknowledged ancestor.
Brisk neat beaked ovals
quick and nimble as harpsichord toccatas
blurred by the tide-wash
popping glossy bubbles with
forth and backing minikins
scavenging crunchies on the wild frontier
all together now
open all the flickerflash
flying fast over rollers
many minis single mind
turning all together like a shower in a gust
skimming over wave-humps
swooping through the spraywhirl
alight between roars
to dimple the ripplepop sky