Here are three poems I wrote last September each about different birds. ‘Visit from a Hawk‘ is based on a true event that happened to me. A hawk landed on my bedroom windowsill – such a surprise, and something that had never happened to me before!
‘The Kingfisher‘ is also a true story – I was out for a walk along a canal, and was keeping a look out for a kingfisher. Like the poem states, it was only when I stopped looking that one appeared! It was only a brief glimpse as it flew out from under the lock gate, but it was my first ever sighting of a kingfisher. This poem is written in sonnet form.
‘Starlings‘ was inspired by a picture in a magazine, of a starling ‘murmuration’, where thousands of starlings flock together and fly in amazing patterns before coming down to roost. I’ve seen this in real life several times before.
Visit from a Hawk
I was indoors on a hazy September evening,
The dimming sky strewn with purple clouds.
A sound outside my window startled me,
A soft thump and a beating of wings.
I looked up, and to my astonishment,
There on the ledge perched a sparrowhawk.
A female, her rich brown feathers ruffled in the wind,
Glossy and pale-tipped; her strong, lean talons
Clutching the narrow ledge; she tilted her head,
Observing me with keen yellow eyes.
As quickly as she arrived, she was gone,
Lifting effortlessly into the dusky sky.
I soon lost sight of her as she soared,
Disappearing across brown reaped fields.
I wonder if she landed there on purpose,
A fleeting visit from a feathered totem,
To surprise me with a message, or a sign.
Or maybe she saw reflections in the glass
Of sky, clouds and trees, and expected to land
On a sheltered branch, and I surprised her too.
I took a walk beside the quiet canal,
Fixated on a quest I had in mind:
To see, should nature cast it’s magic spell,
A kingfisher, with feathers blue and bright.
‘Cross every grassy bank I cast my eye,
Intently watched each willow, broad and green;
Though countless ducks and moorhens paddled by,
The bird I sought was nowhere to be seen.
Disheartened, I abandoned my pursuit,
Resolved to try again another day,
When suddenly, a flash of brilliant blue
From underneath a dripping lock gate came.
The thing you seek with fervour will elude,
But cease, and it will surely come to you.
The evening sky waits with sure anticipation:
Cloudless, still and ready, a light, hazy purple,
With leafless trees forming bold silhouettes.
Suddenly it happens – the long wait is over.
A movement on the horizon, a black shape,
Lifting up and up and scattering to pieces.
Each piece is a starling: together they amass
As a seething cloud, endlessly changing shape,
Their cries filling the air with a deluge of sound.
Shifting, breaking, joining, flowing, jolting;
The spectacle continues until the sky dims,
And all at once they dive low into the reed beds.
The performance is over, the sky empty again:
Navy blue and stiller than ever, not a bird in sight.
The trees fade into darkness; night has come.