Monday, 24 December 2018

Cormorant over the Calder

Twice now I have watched a cormorant, who in my mind is the selfsame bird I see perched atop an iron bridge across the Calder, flying over the edge of Sowerby Bridge.  As the factories of yesteryear peel by, disused chimneys and abandoned mills peering over the riverbanks like thinning autumn trees, I have sat by train windows and watched its shadowy shape, like a thin black bullet, creeping through the evening skies.

I have written about cormorants here before, and have several poems about them in collections, but my sightings of the cormorant over the Calder have prompted a specific suite of three poems, with which I would like to sign off this year of 2018.


Jet thread spinning
over chimney stacks,
racks of roofs
and a river
wintry with rain,
you cruise,
a spool
of raven lace
above the skeletons of trees

As evening drags a ragged shawl
across a valley fringed in frost
you're a shadow
slicing through December cloud,
ebony heron
charcoaling a sunset-sprinkled sky.

Stygian quill
inking Northern townscapes
in a slaty scrape
of sable,
star-strewn skies
in a twisting slit
of scintillant wings .

Dark hearted one,
you float a fine line
between river
and town,
skirt a precipice of crag,
hack a mizzled scrim
of sleet, swing
beneath the brow
of a moon-crowned hill
like a memory of witchcraft.

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