Thursday, 28 June 2018

Haiku: heron

It's almost ten o’clock, but still full daylight, when I walk home from the station. High above me swifts are wheeling and screaming. Not a crowd, but an ample covey.

As I unlock my front door a heron cronks its way over to Gorsey Hill Wood. The sun is easing down behind the hill and its afterglow gentles the heron’s underbelly to a pale gold.

You are old, Old Man
of the Woods, your take-off tired,
trailing legs stick-thin

C Sheila Wild

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

No butterflies

The weather is unusually hot, over 30 degrees Celsius, and has been for a couple of days, with more to come. The jackdaws are feeling it, wobbling unsteadily on the rim of the bird bath and drinking deep. One stands on the ground for several minutes, its beak agape.  It looks dazzled and perplexed.

I take advantage of the heat to repaint the wooden tubs in my back yard. The paint dries immediately, takes another coat in twenty minutes.

Despite the cosmos and the buddleia, the wallflowers and fuchsias, there are no butterflies. Last year I saw dozens – peacocks, red admirals, tortoiseshells – but this year, not so much as a cabbage white. I hope the hard winter hasn't done for them.

Pens, policy and poetry

I’m finding this hard. I can do brief, but I can’t do conversational.

I’m a policy analyst, one who probes and, eventually, reaches a conclusion. In complete contrast, I’m also  a poet, one who attends to the moment.

I aspire to an intimacy of language, but when I write prose, even as I’m doing now, the analytical urge is strong.

I’ve changed pens from a V5 TecPoint to a Parker Jotter, from black ink to blue. The Jotter writes faster, is less forensic. Blue is less self-assured, more exploratory. 

But I have to own, my writing skills are not as reliable as I’d thought.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Trickster Jay

In some mythologies the jay is a trickster or boundary crosser, a beautiful, boastful and wholly necessary guide to the otherworld. For me it's a bird of good omen and I welcome their occasional visits to my garden.

Every year, when the youngsters have fledged, the parent birds bring them to my bird-feeder, as though to say ‘if you’re ever in trouble, this is where you come’. 

And so, this afternoon, I see a young jay perched on the fence. He has been in nature’s dressing-up box. He sports an outsized moustache and is wearing baggy pantaloons in a delicious shade of peachy-pink. His jacket is much too big for him.

He will lose the breath-taking vividness of youth, but the luminosity, the exquisite colouring of his plumage will remain. If you saw only the flash of sapphire on his wing, you would think him beautiful, but there is so much more, the startlingly white rump, the neatly pied tale, the sophisticated pinks and greys of his back and chest.  Our very own bird of paradise.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Poem: Little Gods

What is my intention in writing these notes? To say something about the writing of poetry? Not what is taught in poetry classes, but the friction point in the hazel twig, the spark taking hold.

And thus, fear of the dark and the strangeness of herons combine to make a poem.  

I'd been startled by a soft thud above my head. A heron had landed on the conservatory roof. I’d never seen a heron at such close quarters, and certainly not from underneath. It settled itself, raking its impossibly long thin toes across the Perspex. It was an unnerving sound, as other-worldly as the bird’s pterodactyl-like appearance, but it was a sound I recognise, one that late at night had often frightened me. That herons are out and about in the dark I know, for I’ve seen one fishing in the river at midnight, but it hadn’t occurred to me they would land on my roof.

Little Gods

Herons hunch
on the roof ridge,

grey as
imagined terrors,

little gods
to be placated

lest they give me
the evil eye.

© Sheila Wild

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Poem - Roch meadows

Leather jackets:larvae of crane flies, found in moist or wet cushions of moss.

Crane flies, or ‘daddy long legs’. Over 300 species in the UK. Most common is Tilupa Paludosa, April through to October

Roch meadows, 11th June 2018

buttercups and bistort,
soft rush and sorrel;

in the middle of
the water meadow

a crow listens out
for leatherjackets

© Sheila Wild

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Poem - Blackbirds

3 a.m. I watch the sun rise over Blackstone Edge. A full moon emerges from a bank of cloud. The moon and the sun seen in the same arc of sky - I should get up more often at this very early hour!

5 a.m. there's a faint mist, a blurring of the sight. The mist calms the jackdaws; their calls drop from frantic to conversational. A blackbird is singing most beautifully. Another answers him. Somewhere there is a thrill of blue tits.

By 6 a.m. the birds are silent. Are they, like me, going back to sleep?


merl of blackbirds strikes up,
if not virtuosi,
then choice performers,

their coda a scattering
of apple blossom
on a well-kept lawn

© Sheila Wild