Writer and storyteller

The Lapwing Stars

This piece was written in 2017 and appeared in Fiddler’s Green Peculiar Parish Magazine #4, Crown and Crossroads.


The Lapwing Stars

The lapwings have it, no doubt;
Seen across the field, their green-black
Backs are the measure of mystery
For every colour as yet unseen by the boy.

The thin seam of coal by the brook,
Beneath a humpbacked bridge
Of brick and moss over a slow lap
Of water: that has it;
He mines in tan clay with a spoon,
Slick with rain, as sure of riches
As an oil-baron or a king.
The coal has it, but it is not black.

The pheasant in the spinney has it;
Half-glimpsed, gold as a fairytale thread.
As the boy steps between the trees,
Time peels away like leaves of bark,
Century by century by century.

A fossil in the Suffolk flint has it.
The old figure in the bright field is it.
Cadair Idris magnifies it.
Forebears in calves’ hides, they have it;
Their waterfall vigils make it afresh.
Finger-touch, breath-join, skin-meet,
That remembering kindles it.
A fire made of flesh and lightning.

The boy watches wheat-stubble burn;
A hawk chases a blackbird through the hedge;
The ground cracks open, endlessly.
Memory is this thing’s echo,
The tip of its tail, the print of its
Fleet-foot, the fur in the bramble,
The musk of it on a gatepost in winter.

I know it through the bright star-belt,
Seen clearly in the night of my fast.
I am a vagabond, drifting from it
Like a rudderless boat, numbed,
Thick, graceless as a tripped foot.
But, in that moment of remembering:
Lapwing, coal, pheasant, fire;
Fossil, mountain, waterfall, wife...

I know its place in heaven.

I shake my head. Time colludes with the stars.
The centuries emerge and the lapwing calls:
Pee-wit! Pee-wit! Pee-wit!
I sight it through the gathering dark,
Push at the water with my idiot hands
And steer my clumsy craft towards it.



© Tom Hirons
All rights reserved.

Tom's work available from Hedgespoken Press