My Crow Tells Me

My crow tells me
All she knows-
How far her landmarks are
As the crow flies.
To the pasture?
‘Caw!’
One.
To the spinney where
Your cousins build their rookery?
‘Caw! Caw!’
Two.
To Hanslope Church spire?
‘Caw! Caw! Caw!’
Three.
Three what?
If I but knew
The units she chooses.

My collared dove asks me:
‘Who’s who? Who’s who?’

My wood pigeon tells us:
‘Hugh’s who, he is, Hugh’s who.’
I don’t know Hugh, or where his house,
But Hugh, it seems, is who.

My Jackdaw tells me
Repeatedly, excitedly,
His name.
‘Jack! Jack! Jack, Jack!’
I know, sweetheart,
Your name is Jack.
But riddle me this-
What was my Grandad’s name?
‘Jack?’
Correct! How did you guess?
Now, what was my Uncle’s name?
‘Jack!’
Correct again! Astounding! (or lucky, maybe?)
Try this then-
What was my Grandma’s name?
‘Jack! Jack! Jack, Jack!’
Aha! Wrong!
It was Winifred Evelyn.
Never mind. As long as we know your name,
Which is…?
‘Jack! Jack! Jack, Jack!’

My goldfinches tell me
News from the parish;
Gossip, tittle-tattle.
They prattle as they pass through
(Pausing only to deplete the feeders).
I cannot understand a word,
They gabble so fast
It might as well be Mandarin to me.

My Blackbird-
Ah, my sweet blackbird-
Plays me soothing tunes
Upon his flute.
And I listen from my bed
Through the open window
On a still, warm evening in May,
And I sleep.

Castlethorpe, 9th May 2019

The Cathedral Builders

Ruth and I have been enjoying Tony Robinson’s Channel 5 series Britain’s Great Cathedrals. We’re looking forward to the forthcoming episode on Canterbury. That’s where we met (at the University though, not the Cathedral itself.) The Cathedral was a favourite place to visit, and the experience was always awe-inspiring. When, later, I found this poem by John Ormond I was reminded how such staggering beauty was created by so many hard-working, skilful, ordinary blokes. I love the concluding line.

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A Harrier

A song dedicated to the beautiful North Norfolk coast and to bird watchers everywhere. Ruth and I knocked this up one holiday. The inspiration was the sight of a horse staring over the fence as we drove along; he was obviously counting the cars on the North Norfolk coast road. With apologies to Paul Simon.

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