Once upon a time they came in clouds
to dip and swivel over opened fields;

the spring wind, patched with sunlight,
and lapwings up above and all around –

a shimmer of iridescent green.
Now there are no more.

I hear their absence, waken in the early light
knowing they are gone and won’t return.

I watch for them still, wishful,
but all the fields are bare and silent.

We called them peewits, the name made
to try to catch that sweep of soft call –

and we heard a hundred all at once;
they wove into one another, made a knot

as if from cotton, soft, across the skies.
I’ll keep that safe, somewhere inside my head.

But what will I tell my child happened to the lapwings?

From the collection Coracle, published in London by SPCK

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