Sky, water, stone
Did you come by sea or by air to sky, water, stone
like people in skin boats or migrating birds?
A circle of stones: hands lifted to the heavens.
What cries out in the silence of stone?
Enclosed by water, open to the sky,
communing with the stars: sky eye of stone.
Perhaps you will be changed by sky, water, stone.
Listen to birdsong and the wind, the breath of the world.
Deceit of Lapwings
In praise of scatter burst;
In praise of sky-dancing, soaring, swirling, crazed tumbling;
In praise of leaping with a waver in it;
In praise of saying it slant, flicker tricks, black/white;
In praise of flop and flip, cool jazzer;
In praise of fashionista green iridescence; a feather in your cap, little prince;
In praise of a mosaic of rough-grazing, pools and damp patches;
In praise of cryptically coloured eggs no longer a gourmet’s delicacy;
In praise of bin men scooping up earthworms, and leatherjackets on cowpats;
In praise of prognosticating plovers of pluvia, Latin for ‘rain’;
In praise of distraction, the magician’s art, feigning a broken wing away from your scrape;
In praise of fifths, a song without words;
In praise of a desolate cry.
Down to the Loch
glimpse: black-tip of ear twitch, a hare-witch, mercurial jinks and flip,
turning on a sixpence
swirl: sky-lark dervish; the fan snapped shut
of the drumming snipe
scratch: a glisk, calligraphy of light
etching the clouds
snag: angels shimmy shimmy on the loch,
pock-marked by the unbelief of rain
glow: the hills, Ward and Culag, sky made solid, pale blue
or dark as storm clouds
waves - as the wind shifts and the waters rise
pulse: the plaint of oystercatchers, lapping of the loch, wind in the reeds,
your heart beat.
Great Yellow Bumblebee: a Spell Against Forgetting
In the warm drowsy breeze
where the bee sucks
dreaming deep inside red clover
or on vortices of tiny hurricanes
weaving from flower to flower:
knapweed, ragwort, yellow rattle,
oxeye daisies, bird’s foot trefoil
as if summer days
will never cease.
rarest of bees.
(Various names for the Lapwing)
Pee - it
Pee - it
Pee - it
Pee - it Be it
Pye-wise Be wise
Don’t chewit/chewit/chewit tew-it Do it
Alternative Names for Curlew
- Acolyte of the watery moon and mud.
- Elegant high-stepping wader, with downward crescent-shaped bill, connoisseur of cockles, molluscs and lug-worms.
- Paraglider who hangs then drops, roller-coaster, look-at-me.
- Coloratura of bubbling, looping love.
- Breath of darkness. Breath of light.
- Eldritch cry, wavering like smoke.
- The earth’s soul shivering, keening out of the lonely places.
- The hurts of a world stripped raw, burning or drowning.
- Cassandra of the marshes.
What if there was no more birdsong and all we knew were their names?
(English, Orcadian and Latin)
Lapwing Teeick, Tewit, Peewit Vanellus vanellus Curlew Whaup Numenius arquata Redshank Watery Pleeps Tringa totanus Skylark Laverock Alauda arvensis Oystercatcher Chaldro Haematopus ostralegus Snipe Horsegock Gallinago gallinago Short-eared owl Cattieface Asio flammeus
At The Ring of Brodgar
I am flitting white moths, the souls of the dead;
I am the gaping eye that contains all loss;
I am your lost country, the lover who left;
I am ice the curlew’s beak cannot penetrate;
I am unseasonable snow freezing the lapwing chicks;
I am the smirk, the giggle in sacred places;
I am the still centre of the hurtling universe;
I am slow time, the diurnal movement of light and the shadow encroaching lichen-encrusted skin;
I am the constellations streaming across the heavens;
I am the rhythm of wingbeats and cries, skeins of migrating geese;
I am the shaft of sun that enters the stone womb of Maes Howe;
I am mid-winter solstice when darkness will give way to light.