snipe

Good morning, all! How is the weather in your part of the world? It’s a lovely, crisp morning here, with all the birds in full voice. As an early riser, at this time of the year it’s one of my greatest pleasures to go for a walk at first light, when the world’s awash with song. I now hear curlews and woodpeckers as well as wrens and thrushes on my morning ramble, and over the past week, sedge and willow warblers have begun to return our part of the muir. I love the warblers’ melodic trilling notes, the way they flit about the air on a bright sunlit morning, and their forms like tiny sentinels on the fence posts that divide a nearby landowner’s new plantations. I’m looking forward to hearing this spring’s first cuckoo in the next week or two and will let you know when this happens. Birds – or rather, my excitement about birds and birdsong – often make me stop paying necessary attention to my balance and gait when I’m out walking . . .and cause me to fall over (a not infrequent occurrence, and one I’m very used to!).

This is a poem about one of my favourite local birds, about walking in an unbalanced body, and about not taking yourself too seriously.

Snipe

In one way or another, all
bodies are full of themselves:
the hare, born with its eyes open,
and me, with my
altered form and its
ungainly dawn-cast shadow.

For I
revel in this body that cannot keep time
this thing of uneven cadence, obscure rhythm,
leaning over, hanging back,
this dance of two sundered halves,
this divided figure pushing forth against itself,
one arm swinging, one hanging vaguely in the air:

a pause, perhaps,
to catch
what’s whispered
by the amber-shaded morning
to my body’s laggard side.

My left leg ebbs and
wavers on the meaning
of my own slow slow quick slow absorption.

Look at me go!
So resourceful! So creative!
Askew! Lopsided!
A body that, in moving,
rejoices in
its own
impairment!

There’s
a curt
muttering as
a bird rises from the muir:
was that my friend, the snipe?
I turn –
too late –
I’ve fallen.