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