JACKDAWS AT BEACHY HEAD
I think of the suicides
whose final fall
Looking back along the way we came
the long coastal path seems like
all the questions simplified--
on one side sea and air,
on the other air and earth.
We sit on a bench to eat our lunch.
Then they appear, a gang of them,
the jackdaws in their formal suits,
with sun-sleek backs and strutting walks.
They exude a nervous arrogance
like undertakers with criminal convictions.
Alert, like someone always on the make.
Their suits fit well,
their souls don’t seem to own them.
They darken quickly
when cloud-shadow slides across the land.
There is always something about them
you cannot quite make out:
their eyes, it seems to me, are white, or blue,
or grey, shadowless and unspecific.
The colour of air perhaps,
or the colour of falling.
First published in The Interpreter's House
© Paul Surman 2006