by Karen Lloyd

In the spring I’ll travel to the valley –
a witness to the sky-dance
of the last Golden Eagle, writing
his own elegy across the clouds.
Riggindale’s cragged bridal nest,
a heathered double bed
in which each year the female laid
another barren egg. Each year
the eggs collected, bequeathed
to the museum; archived, boxed,
retained behind the scenes.
An unproductive cist of eggs,
one, bone-white, an elongated moon,
cratered by its own demise.
Another, brindled gold. A third
the patina of umbered valley earth.
Another splashed with a stain like
rain, mountain-dripped,
slowly seeped beneath the feathered
warmth. One more, marled sienna
as if marked by the sun itself.
A hollow case of promises,
of reasons not to be.

There were rumours of others,
hidden in the west.
Defended day and night
by men in camouflage – but still
the eagles failed.
A box of golden eggs, a fairy-tale;
a curation of what might have been
and what was not. Then this
the sixth, drawn with a looping
calligraphic script; a code
we are unable to read –
forecasting the end?

In the spring I’ll travel to the valley.
I’ll watch our Goldie launch himself
from Eagle Crag or Kidsty,
signalling to a mate that never comes.
The landscape holds the memory of flight.

In February 2016, The RSPB announced that England’s last Golden Eagle was dead. No corpse has ever been found, and sightings are still reported. But perhaps, fed up of waiting for a partner, the eagle simply moved on. In his compelling book, ‘Call of the Eagle,’ Dave Walker details his own efforts to keep the Riggindale eagles fed; without sufficient trees and scrub cover, there is little infrastructure to support small mammal life. The story is representative of much that is wrong in our uplands.

Karen Lloyd is a Cumbrian writer whose work in both non-fiction and poetry centres on the natural world and our relationship to it. Her prize-winning book, ‘The Gathering Tide; A Journey Around the Edgelands of Morecambe Bay’ is published by Saraband. Her next book, ‘The Blackbird Diaries,’ discusses the loss of England’s last Golden Eagle, and is due to be published in 2017.