Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 412

You Cry Your Name

Kittiwake, kittiwake, kittiwake

under a mackerel sky –
gray scales flaked and flung
that speak of change

above the sea –
the wild wet prairie that you skim
mile after mile
while the wind scythes white spray
off the black-tipped waves

and you harvest the rising inches
of sandeels
slim, slippery strands to feed
the memory of wide raucous mouths
back on the narrow ledge
sparse horizontal
on the cliffs’ stern vertical rise
and rise

and ask

this year?  this year?

black-tipped wings
return mile after mile
and from that sweet face

you cry your name again, again
kittiwake, kittiwake, kittiwake

Joan Lennon

Note: This poem arose from a month's writing residency on Fair Isle. It is featured in the 26 Wild project, which asked poets to write about animals under threat: https://26project.org.uk/26wild/about/

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