(Ouse Washes, Cambridgeshire)
His faculty for recognition was almost gone.
The crowd of sleeping godwits,
long bills tucked under their wings,
were golden plover,
and had we seen a
Out on the grasslands
I showed him six curlew
through the 'scope,
his shaking hand holding the lens,
his eyeball travelling
slowly left to right.
Feed-ing, he said.
His daughter poured him coffee.
He drank slowly, uneasily
she helped him to slant the cup,
open a packet of crisps,
remember to eat,
told me how he still
loved the countryside.
And when the waders were spooked
we searched in vain
for a peregrine falcon,
seeing instead a fox
with a widgeon across its jaws,
across the wash.
As the birds reassembled
and dabbled for grain,
the first winter swans trumpeted
their arrival through the clouds.
Who- Who- Whoopers! the old man said,
as simultaneously, word and bird
touched down together.
Copyright © 2015 Richard J Whiting