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Late summer

The gull lands to twist the neck from the body

And picks at gaping gills, 

While mother-of-pearl scales

Cling to its stark yellow beak.

Slick, sleek silver, slapped hard against black rock

Back broken, bones splayed out

Picked clean

And left to bleach.

Recharged, the gull lurches forward and leaves

For another steal at the fishing boat.  


Late autumn

The land is herringboned to the sea

Nipped, tucked and structured, 

Laid to rest

Ready for sowing in spring.

Rainwater runs in the ruckles

Shimmering the earth under thick-set skies

Shaved curls overlap

Like the crest of a lapwing’s crown

They will return with their dance

When the warmer winds blow. 


Late winter

Wool blanket, herringbone weave

Wrapped up against the wind

That rattles the old worn window-frames

And sends a familiar whistle through the hole in the oak tree, 

Down by the gate. 

The house martin’s nest a smear against the wall

Erased by water running in invisible trails

From roof to path to land to burn to stream to river to sea 

It rarely snows, here,

On the blurred boundary line between soil and salt.


Late spring

The hares have spent time enough

Berating one another for a chance at love

Chasing down the runs of the fields

Before stopping to listen, alert and wild-eyed.

The swallows return

And cut the air into ribbons

In their quest for insects

While the lapwings flip, wing over tail,

In their own bizarre ritual

Under this evening’s herringbone sky. 

Poem copyright Larissa Reid

Artwork copyright Elspeth Knight

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