THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2005

  Josephine Brogan
THE SKINFLATS BIRD RESERVE, FIRTH OF FORTH (MANAGED COASTAL REALIGNMENT)
 

The sea, eastward, ebullient
as ever, starting to invade the land,
the heel of the firth bearing down
on hectares that have nowhere to go,

what else then but give in, offer it
bits of coast, the meadow-strips
still innocent, still nestling in their buttercups
and daisies? Dismayed

we watched the weather jitter,
chilly, glints of steely-grey,
but it didn’t need much, an embrace,
a kiss, between mud and shore,

for the marshland to produce its own,
the round green and small blue flowers
that grow in the sea as comfortable as shells;
for glasswort, blite, straggly sea-lavender;

for airy streaks of fizzing
invertebrates to mass and deploy; and men
on planks, prone as monks, plunged
in, up to their arm-pits.

The habitat’s in blossom now,
the sedges thicken. Irate gulls
turn on the breeze, ninety
degrees on a dollar bill….

then high above the morning news
in they come, loads of them,
out from rifts in the pink sky
dropping fast –redshank, teal,

curlew with its long beak of bone,
skittering as they find their feet
then focussing; the shapes they make
poring over the odorous mud –

like children stooping.

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