A Wild Swan Feed At Welney – David Healey

The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
2014 Crabbe Memorial Competition – First Prize
Adjudicator: Gregory Warren Wilson

After the kerfuffle of reaching

the viewing chamber, making sure

the children with additional needs

don’t get lost or left behind

the swans fly towards us, 

strung out like a wavering horizon, 

glide down and carve Vs of curved 

spray as they water ski to a stop.

The children laugh and cry, call 

across to each other, answer back.

Soon as grain is thrown
from a barrow the swans converge

snatch and swallow what they can, 

near enough for us to see 

each adult bird has a wedge 

of yellow on its bill.

There’s bugling and honking 

on the lagoon. Most are Whoopers

though the warden in his spiel 

informs us Bewick swans

are seen better from East Hide.

It’s a rumpus when they take off:

smack smack against water

as they struggle to get airborne.

Archie, my grandson, can’t stand 

without splints and hand rails
but flapping his arms like wings

he gives me the lift I need just now.

Pools of sunlight and cloud shadow

sweep across The Ouse Washes.

When I hold him at the window

he laughs at where he is in the sky.

Copyright © 2014 David Healey




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