Red Kites over Loch Ken
Have they been wheeling and waiting for me, how long,
Over these bare February branches,
skeletons they will neither roost in
Nor pick at, wood-bones for which they have no use?
Waiting all the while the silver water slides as rustled silk
Right to left, under the old viaduct at Parton?
Driven by massive air
That I can only guess at, from Greenland, arctic, God knows where,
They circle now; the world is stilled, only the kites revolve
In their great arcs of prey-seeking.
What strange concatenation of events
Has brought me here to see them, how could they know
I would be brought within the ambit of their circling?
Did they know the tide was out at Carrick, and the wind
Too strong, too blustering, there, to launch?
When all of us could just as well be elsewhere, yet
They still achieve their stasis in the frame of my eyes;
Was I recovered from the clutch of darkness, from the pull
Of an even wilder, darker shore than Galloway’s, for this vision?
Just to see the red kites wheel in the glint of February sunlight
Burnishing the loch beneath them, the rippling surface
Silver out of grey, some alchemy of light unknown to me.
I have a sense this moment is important
But, like so many others in my life, no inkling why,
No sense of wide significance, except their dark magnificence
Up there means something I don’t know yet:
All I know is the moment when, above bare February branches,
Crisscrossing sky in black patterns like veins, the kites
Rose over shores, hovering, huge, majestic; here
Soar red kites in the cold sky.
And I am watching them, and watching water; maybe
Spring will come back after all – there have been other signs, now I think on it,
And here am I, today, watching the red kites over Loch Ken,
And, for once, not drowning, but waving.