Sunday, 10 July 2011


How all these dead things come and go
across this Estuary, its shining length and breadth!
Dead creatures, the wholes or parts of them,
that come in with the flood, that go out with the ebb
without asking anyone's leave.

(No last trump for them, then?
No! No more than for you or me, kiddo!)

Spineless, jellied things and twisted skeletal things,
flesh and bone and shell and feather,
remains of bird, beast, fish of the sea,
hanging about, but not for ever.

Where they float they are tugged by crabs and fishes,
where stranded, rent and plundered,
pecked by hungry rook and crow,
nibbled by the progeny of those happy rats
who ate the leather flaps
of Brunel's Atmospheric Railway,
sniffed by night by that dogfox we know
and devoured from within by tiny, salty bugs:

dead things crawling with life!

And even that proud and noble buzzard
resting on her splayed wings,
black on the wind, above Sowden's cliff,
does not distain these dead things.

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