Sixty tonne of metal bellowing down the sky
assails the quietude
of reeds and muddy pools
where spoonbills sift through sludge and seagulls drift nearby.
The mouth of the Ria Formosa’s a birders’ paradise:
miles of salt pans hosting
birds of low-lying coastline,
in thousands upon thousands. It’s Eden beyond price
in every way but one: the fence of Faro Airport
describes the eastern bound,
a steel and concrete rind
around the commercial world; a fence with clear-cut purport.
And many times an hour the jets come blazing in
bouldering down the approach path
with cavalier chutzpah
affronting devotees of nature with their din
and guilt flung in our faces: a similar murderous roar
rocked the still lagoons
with equal magnitude
in service of ourselves some several days before
provoking me to question the holiday I chose.
They have a word in Sweden
for guilt at flying: “flygskam”.
I feel my flygskam crawling like bugs beneath my clothes.
Sixty gram of feathers billowing along the bank
resolves into a subject
that makes our outing perfect,
this long but fruitful trudge past waders in their ranks.
As it labours closer we note the zebra flicker;
the two-tone looping halo
and recognise a hoopoe,
the sight of it arousing our heartbeats ever quicker.
Handmaid to the sun, her hair’s a blush of blossom
flaring in a fiery
soot-specked blaze of fury,
her dagger subtly curled, a pink flush to her bosom.
She settles midst the flowers that frame an old brick building.
We view her greedily
while she waits, warily,
vouchsafing no one sees what den her brood’s concealed in.
The hut has hiding places, one better than all others,
for suddenly, she’s gone.
Then reappears again.
For certain she deserves my plaudit, when this mother
like somebody divesting a chequered cotton shawl
unfolds her wings out wide
and breezily flaps away
prickled by a torment of flygskam not at all.