Sunday, 5 November 2017

Herons and Bitterns

I’m pleased to have had these two waterfowl poems up on Caught By The River recently.
Each from a forthcoming book - although two different books! Watch this space...


Grey as the watery dawn,
wet with the guts of frogs,
the blood of moorhen chicks,

Ardea Cineriae:
ghosts upon the foreshore,
patient for fish and history.

Separate and sentinel,
misplaced milestones, attendants
to the helicoidal flow

which undermines the river bank
(a sliding snake that slowly
eats the water meadow).

Their perfumed legs
are nectar to minnows
who crowd to be speared,

their beaks - the impalers
of stooping falcons.
Crepuscular anglers,

delicate and granite,
timid but constant,
observers and recorders.

Under their plumage
their hollow bones
are etched with runes

- the unreadable toll
of the seasons' cycle,
the pool of the river.

The Bittern

The cows stand dying in the field
sharp hip and shoulder blades revealed.
Who knows from where their sickness comes?
The Drekavac; the Mire-Drum.

Booming from the lonely reed bed
this ghost of the unbaptised dead
looks up toward the rising sun:
the Drekavac; the Mire-Drum.

Some say he drops his dreadful beak
into the marsh before he speaks
to make the stinking fenny ground
an amplifier for his sound.

Bog-Bumper: shy in tan and dun,
the Drekavac; the Mire-Drum.


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