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Birds

Cinderella Bird

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

with humility.


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?


 

Gull

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

The God

that cannot be remembered

cannot be forgotten


 

Heron

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

you stare

past your own gaunt image

scanning plumes of sand

that bloom around your sunken toes.

At last your snake-neck strikes

stabs down

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.

Seeing me

you rise

ancient gallows taking wing

utter an indignant rusty "cronk"

and flap across the waves

your shadow trailing

like an unacknowledged ancestor.


 

Sanderlings

Brisk neat beaked ovals

twig-thin twinklelegs

quick and nimble as harpsichord toccatas

criss-cross arrow-tracks

blurred by the tide-wash

popping glossy bubbles with

rose-prickle claws

forth and backing minikins

scavenging crunchies on the wild frontier

all together now
open all the flickerflash

foam-white  cloud-grey

featherwings

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

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