Sand Martins
(Evening Roost – Pagelsham Essex.)


There were sand mar­tins :
         just a few –
the other year they set­tled here in thou­sands
and no-one knew exact­ly whence they came.

Speculation : chooses what it will –
sand­pits in Essex, Suffolk, or Norfolk ;
the steep-sided banks of our Anglian rivers.

They had more sand to come –
their sub-Saharan win­ters drew them on
towards the sun and other war­ming ins­tincts.

The eve­ning roost expan­ded :
the wires could not hold them –
strange staves – strange nota­tions.

The music sum­mer makes can over­come –
     dirges, laments, thre­no­dies,
all the vale­dic­tions and the strains
         of mourn­ful cel­los.

      Thousands, thou­sands,
bea­ting their wings against the har­vest moon :
that mas­sive, mol­ten, amber-full illu­sion
resoun­ding : in the owl-light – like a drum.