from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Lost Species poem 23: Dave Borthwick

For a few years now I've admired Dave Borthwick's concise little wildlife (mostly birdlife) poems, usually accompanied by a photo, that trickle through Twitter.

I'm delighted to post a longer poem from him in his distinctive voice (the original was at a wider spacing but Blogger won't let me do that):

After Charley Harper’s ‘Mystery of the Missing Migrants’ (1990)

& brittle silence of winter
        (cold middle of day)
lasts as long as corvids are content
which is not long
when the buzzard keeps turning its kee

& no silent spring
when the geese remaining
            (post-fieldfare, pre-swallow)
pick up flightfeather buzz and creaking door call
to shift local fields before northing

& silence in summer once the breeding calls fall off
    (post great tit’s teach-er teach-er, blackbird’s careful reprise)
until swallows return to their pockmud clasp
and zwip and burble
at the bulbous blind of the 2nd brood’s eyes

& silent autumn afternoons
watching skies
        (pre-migrations south & north)
hoping that what is amiss
will not translate to the missing;
that winter will be silent only until sound.

© Dave Borthwick

Charley Harper on ‘The Mystery of the Missing Migrants’:

‘For centuries, the neo-tropical migrants in this picture have shuttled between winter homes in the tropical rainforest and nesting sites in our woodlands. Now their populations are plummeting. Why? Habitat destruction Down There? Up Here? Is your favorite songster in this flock? Each April, I listen anxiously to the dawn chorus for the return of my favorite, that world-class flutist, the wood thrush. Are silent springs forthcoming? Remember the canary in the coal mine?’

To see the image, go here:

Dave Borthwick is a tramper of fields and stander in the rain, who also lectures in Environmental Humanities at the University of Glasgow's School of Interdisciplinary Studies.


  1. Silent Spring - resonates doesn't it?

  2. Doesn't it just, Angie. So many years on from the book, and there's no forgetting...


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