Return of the Red Kite

Carefully she offers control to the currents
As her eye glides up over furrows
Never overcorrecting, she appears
When she means to, clears the barren treetops
And fastens some fur between her beak and the ground.

Her predator’s presence in the city shows
She retains the perfection of the ages,
And rats, nested in stubborn woodland patches
Sing of her soundings to their children, of days
Of sudden pain when scraps and salvage end.

I was deprived of her, by haste.
Eggs, whose skin could crackle like woodfire
Instead sank in to themselves, and shrank
Til embryo sap stained the tree-forks.
Her keening night-cry declared the time.

And silence slowly took the skies while I was born
As the hill-wind might forget a part of itself.
No longer the slip and slither of air around wing
Only the crows desperate gasping and magpie chitter
I did not know that anything was missing.

Then, one day as we walked amongst the drizzle
Along a long drystone wall, I followed a hand
Which gestured up. How can it be,
That a few dark specks and their swoopings, complete the sky?
I felt this, and mum smiled to see me smile.

[The red kite is a bird of prey which was almost wiped out by the use of the pesticide DDT, and saved by some thoughtful people. Now it can be seen all over West Yorkshire again]

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