An absence.

The skylark population of the UK declined by 75% between 1972 and 1996. It is still declining.

There is an absence in the air.
A feeling of loss
for those who knew.
For those who saw
a tiny speck of brown
raise itself up on a column of air
into a clear blue sky
on a day just like this-
singing itself into being.
A tiny body
thrilling with life.

A tiny heart has stopped beating
and the world is smaller.

Each time was a surprise.
A cascade of notes
streaming down through the sky,
hanging on the wind-
seeming to come from nowhere.
So far.
So high.
I searched the sky
for a speck of brown-
the open beak and swelling throat
too distant to see.
A whole body transformed into song.

I don’t remember when I heard it last.
I didn’t feel the loss coming.
A shame.
I would have liked to say goodbye
but maybe it was for the best.
I can sit here
watching the gulls glide across the silence
and hope.

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Christmas full moon.

Christmas is all about stars,
a sky full of angels singing,
noise, fear, hope, longing.
Spare a thought for the quiet moon,
hanging there, waiting.

Pale emptiness radiating beauty
across still water.
Spinning through darkness
hiding its dark side.
A silent world, watching.

Peeling back the Years.

I stripped the bark from ash twigs,
just because I could.
Long straight arrows,
pointing to the sky,
with neatly twinned black buds
and high hopes,
mutilated, cut down in their prime
to be made new.

Slowly greenness soaked under my nails
as the coarse grey skin
gave up its secret.
Damp white flesh
dried into a hardness,
that was soft as bedtime,
smooth as ice cream,
pale as a dream.

Sometimes I strung one with twine
and fired the thinnest bamboo cane,
but usually they would lie forgotten
until the next walk
and the next trophy,
longer, straighter, finer.
That was no sadness-
It was the doing that mattered.

Daffs on Parade.

How do they know?
How do they know that the time is theirs?
Are they the first to feel the warmth rising,
the sap sprinting upwards,
tightness unfurling?
A longing to move?

Soldiers of the Spring,
uniformed, precise.
A regiment of happiness
reporting for duty,
jostling for position,
straight backed and trim.

Yearly manoeuvres almost complete
they wait to receive their dress uniforms
from the touch of the sun.
“Stand at ease!”
“Present blooms!”
“Show time!”

Cow Parsley.

It’s the scent I notice first.
I have walked among it all my life
without thinking.
Still air, loaded with summer.
Long stalks shoot up,
fast growing, opportunist,
searching for light.
Tiny sprays of white
in a shambles of dull green
which fill every hedgerow.
Every piece of waste ground
teems with them.
There is nothing special here,
nothing to draw the eye,
yet each year they come,
claiming their space.
Their delicate beauty
is easy to walk past-
easy to condemn,
strim, scythe, behead,
but still they break into flower,
seizing their chance,
growing fast in the warm rain,
keeping faith,
being alive.
They seize their moment,
finding comfort in numbers,
shivering nervously
as they wait in hope.