The Nests

for Kathryn

You ask again about the nests – the wren’s
hung in the ivy above the broken pier,
a goldcrest’s low in the privet,
the robin’s safe in the pampas.
And below the Lane Gate, coal tits
have built in the hollow post.
If you run your hand up the damp shaft
you’ll find the spot, where the metal is warm.
They lead us away from the house,
under the barbed wire and down the lane to Long Field.
We’ll keep to the lea of the ditch for shelter.
Overhead a mistle-thrush stirs the hawthorn,
as out in the wind the larks have settled
in cups of grass-corn for the night.
When we cross to the Glens a snipe catapults
from the rushes close by the feet.
Now we approach the wall-dark of the wood
and hear within the wounded call of the owl.
We come in due course to a river, where I lie face down
on your surface, the rain soft on my spine.

Maurice Riordan
(from The Water Stealer)

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