Curlew by Gillian Clarke

She dips her bill in the rim of the sea.

Her beak is the ellipse

of a world much smaller

than that far section of the sea’s

circumference. A curve enough to calculate

the field’s circle and its heart

of eggs in the cold grass.

 

All day while I scythed my territory

out of nettles, laid claim to my cantref,

she has cut her share of sky. Her song bubbles

long as a plane trail from her savage mouth.

I clean the blade with newspaper. Dusk blurs

circle within circle till there’s nothing left

but the egg pulsing in the dark against her ribs.

For each of us the possessed space contracts

to the nest’s heat, the blood’s small cicuit.

 

by Gillian Clarke

from The Sundial (Gwasg Gomer, 1978)


Fun fact: A cantref was a medieval Welsh land division, particularly important in the administration of Welsh law.

They’ve Cut A Hole In The Deep by Sofia Parnok

They’ve cut a hole in the deep

dence blue of the ice:

a breathing space for big fish and little,

water for bringers of buckets,

a way out for a weary traveller

if she and life turn out after all

to be travelling different roads

and she has nowhere to go.

 

by София Яковлевна Парнок (Sophia Yakovlena Parnok) (1931)

translated by Robert Chandler