Kestrel

“Look! You can see how it just flickers its wings for a brief moment, and then hovers. It’s a kestrel!”

As the car continues, I twist and crane my neck to keep it in view.

“They’re slightly reddish in colour, though against the light perhaps you can’t see. There it goes!”

Closing its wings, it plummets to the ground. Moments later, it flaps heavily off to a location more distant from the road.

“I think it’s got something! Look how much slower it is now.”

The car rounds the bend, and the kestrel and its prey vanish behind a heather-clad cutting.

Sparrowhawk is something else. Sitting in the living room, face steaming with the healing vapours of thick cocoa, I gaze out at the snow. On the multi-headed bird feeder – more like a tree – they’re busy. Great tits, blue tits, chaffinches. Blackbirds and dunnets on the ground, gathering up the crumbs from under thy table.

Suddenly, a great scatter. They explode in all directions, like a silent, feathery firework.

Bang! Something hits the window glass.

Looking out, I see a pitiful small corpse. A chaffinch, so dusty-grey pink in its fine breast feathers, lies in the snow.

We pull on wellies and go round to the now deserted terrace. Picking up her frail warm form, cradling it in my hands.

“She may be OK still. Bring her inside in the warm.”

Inside, in a shoebox, sentinels warding off the cat, the fragile bird gradually comes round.

Elderflower wine

I’m running, flying, up the back track in the dark after Erica. My head’s spinning like the stars. The trees are just dark giants laughing down on us in our crazy, drunken escapade. I don’t know where we’re heading, or even if we’re together. I know she’s not fleeing from me, but neither is she with me.

The wine wasn’t ready, really. Some house kid stole it from her mum, still in the carboy, and donated it to the dorm full of teens. Among those pert-breasted girls, adolescent hippy dudes and alternative oddities, I too drank my fill. The sediment churned in the glass as I sat on the mattressed floor and made vain efforts to be included.

In the morning, it’s a scene of vomit. Buckets and washing-up bowls and ice cream tubs litter the floor, like boulders in a maze.

June steps into the room, a wry and patient smile of fond tolerance on her lips and in her eyes. “Let’s get this cleaned up,” is all she says. No reproach.

“June… June… I really like you,” is all I can manage. The alcohol still has its hold.

It’s true. Perhaps more than any of my cohort, my peers, I prefer one who’s one of their mothers. Hers would be the arms to hold me.

I’m just a child. This adult striving isn’t yet for my world. Perhaps just a mother to hold me.

@iHEARTPOETS

And no, I don’t know who you are, distant person who “is now following” me. Your words appear on the screen, striving for love, to matter, to be heard.

14.2K followers.

It’s a big world, and it’s an almost infinite history. So many heart poets, each of us in our fragility, our insignificance, and seeking significant other.

I really only matter deeply to less than a handful of folk. That’s the simple truth. Perhaps it’s everyone’s truth – give or take a factor or two.

So, what? Live with it? Celebrate it? Cherish, really see, savour, each moment in the presence of the ones who care?

It would be so easy to look at this infinity of tweets – this enormous electronic nest of hungry young mouths, clamouring to be fed with attention and love – and to judge, to despise. But no – that’s life, that’s the manifestation of longing, that’s what each of us (perhaps?) honestly, basically, feels. It’s just a little hard to admit:

I WANT TO MATTER.
I WANT PEOPLE TO CARE ABOUT ME.
I WANT, WHEN IT’S MY BIRTHDAY, MANY CARDS FROM LOVING FRIENDS.
I WANT IT TO MEAN SOMETHING.

I can dress myself up in sophistication, and could despise or mock the others, and I could feel silently overwhelmed by the infinity of other souls who diminish me to a pointless dot with “You are here!” like in the Douglas Adams vision.

But no.

Let’s just accept it. Each tweet, each click, each screen swipe, each browser refresh – it’s just looking for love.

The Rabbit

It’s a few feet from the verge, looking slow and disoriented in our approaching headlights. Ben slows down to a crawl, fearful of hitting it.

“It makes me so angry!” says Karen. “No, we can’t leave it like that. Myxy is such a terrible death – they’re suffering so much!”

“D’you want me to run it over, love?”

I can feel Enya tense up beside me, gripping my hand, as Ben reverses the car a hundred yards, halts, then engages first and floors the accelerator.

“Get a clean shot!”

The rabbit wavers, and Ben swerves slightly.

Thud.

My body whole body spasms, spine tensing and tingling.

The car stops, and they look back in the darkness.

“Not sure. Did I get it properly?”

“Yes, yes.”

Ben seems ready to get out and take a look.

“Honestly. That was a clean hit. It’s dead.”

The good deed’s done.