27/02/18

Brambles cut with snow
are the earth’s bronze crown
of thorns in the sun

This sun – glancing the snow
I walk under – and my ears
tilt to the birdsong now –

this spring beginning with snow
A fox-path diverts from mine
to the deeper more humanless parts

And cars through the sleet
as my ears grow colder
the houses are there, dusted

with drybrush grey-white crusts
plucked from a model of
the apocalypse – each is empty

Others walk by to arrive somewhere
as I stand and look
at the fallen tree, sliced with a gap.

A half frozen lake waits
for me, and duck ripples
there is no escape, but this

is an escape, the frozen sheet
the tree’s twisting bark
the wood-pigeon’s cold thrum

May this be preserved
this tas of remnants
this precision of life

which clings to us like a scar.
‘Do not go in the water’
it would be piercing quiet

Then dull, but I do not need telling
twice – to not miss
by brash action – a moment.

Behind the patient moon,
a meteor – as I walk home
watch my head coalesce

into the white materia – holy.

Return of the Red Kite

The Red Kite is a bird of prey which was almost wiped out by landlords with rifles, and then soulless egg collectors. It was saved by some thoughtful people in a campaign against their stupidity. Now it can be seen all over West Yorkshire again. This poem is about the first time I saw one as I walked nearby Harewood.

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 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 the lords.
Eggs, whose skin could crackle like woodfire
instead were fixed alone, under glass –
as a nobler blood stained the tree-forks.
Their keening night-cry declared the time.

And silence slowly took to the skies while I was born
as the hill-wind began to forget a part of itself.
No longer the slip and slither of air around wing –
only the crow’s 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 her 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.