Half-writing and half-reading in the garden, though concentrating fully on neither if I’m honest with myself: just sitting, in truth, not thinking, watching the passage of the light, the wind passing through the leaves of the copper beech. In the distance, an old oak on what passes for a hill in the flat landscape, where crows and jackdaws come and go, disappearing instantly in its dense black canopy. Leaf-flicker on brick path, the flower beds blowsy and ragged this late in the summer. A few light clouds amble across the comic-book blue of the sky, and then, amazingly, a bird of prey, without doubt, swoops lazily overhead, briefly, all too briefly, seen between the treetops and the house-tops. Its underside a uniform buttery cream – like beech wood freshly gleaming through a wound in the bark – apart from two black, comma-shaped patches on each wing-hinge, a notable marking made all the more vivid by the cleanness of the surrounding colouration. A search through books and internet sites brings nothing: it’s the wrong size – or I guess it is from the short time I saw it – for a honey-buzzard, though that’s the only possible suspect for a bird with those markings (honey-buzzards, though not a fixture, are an occasional visitor to this stretch of coast), and everything else is too fanciful to even begin to countenance. Happy for now to let the mystery stand.
2.“First there is flamboyant
use of space. Then the suspicion of an
awkwardness. I had thought there were two pairs
of harriers. One of the four is not.
The graphics roll into a scuffle, bind
a confusion, wrestle themselves for a
discovery. The sky is opening
to the touch of an anomaly: the
other bird, full splay, stamped with black on both
R. F. Langley, from ‘Vidilicit’, in Complete Poems, ed. Jeremy Noel-Tod (Manchester: Carcanet, 2015)