Eyrie – published in Northwords Now Autumn 2021

Eyrie i): The evening we went to ring the eaglet with the bird man


She-eagle came in straight and low

red grouse gripped, flash-

landing in bracken and scree

detonating pulse of eaglet cries 


It’s on the ground    shit 

the thunderstorm this morning, 

chick must’ve jumped, they’re scared of thunder.

It needs to be back in the nest to survive,

it’s still two, mebbe three weeks off fledging


I climbed, climbed

pulse of eagle against clavicle,

translucent scales laying down on arms,

chest, in the hollow of my throat


scent of first fire 

buzz of flies 

yellowest eyes


up, up, and all the time


she-eagle stalwart 

in treacherous blue 


we left the eyrie quickly, 

walked hopeful across heather

slugs gentling under decay of bog cotton



scales are still falling from my skin, my eyes 



Eyrie ii)


Nothing so quiet

as an empty eyrie


in the smir we share

one pair of binoculars


a small brown bird

flutters down the rock-face


loosening last hopes

for an eagle chick


that leapt too soon

from a thunderclap



Eyrie iii)


The bird man texted 

video footage of the eagle chick 

was harrowing 


    Its damaged neck meant

    it could only see the world upside down,

    meant it couldn’t swallow and digest, 

    meant it couldn’t regurgitate pellets


I think of the parent bird,

trying past twisted cries, 

trying until all went quiet


how after that concavity of time  

she carried the body - now the slightest thing,

to a discreet location



the bird man texted

we never find eagles that die of natural causes



I find that unaccountably consoling