Only now does it occur to me
as something unseen, maybe a dog in the dunes
beyond (although in the poem it will be a peregrine,
probably) unravels a tangle of them near the outflow.
There is one sharp salvo of low-pitched cries–
knut, knut, knut–
then they spiral like smoke to heaven,
first black as a cloud of summer gnats, now silvered
as the foil they used to fool radar,
to collect themselves again
in the tranquility of the sandbar.
                                                And stand
                                                                 Calidris canutus,
king’s men all, commanding the waves to turn back
or else making a point completely lost on history
(though the great Dane’s fondness for them
was purely culinary). Their beaks pushed
into wet mud create a pressure wave,
reflected back and detected by a sensitive layer
at the end of the bill, so any objects larger
than a grain of salt show up like a submarine on sonar.
And they’re airborne again,
                                     only now it occurs to me
that they’re more a shimmering shoal of sand eels,
dissipated in a second, disappearing momentarily,
a stubborn collective thought of explosive energy.

Matt Merritt has been published in a number of British magazines, including Anon, Iota, Magma, Other Poetry, Parameter and Poetry Nottingham, as well as a number of small press anthologies. His debut chapbook, Making The Most Of The Light, was published last year and is available at www.happenstancepress.co.uk He works as a magazine journalist in Peterborough, England. (mattmerritt100@hotmail.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761