around the circumference of exactly here in 7000 miles & 6 species

by Dave Borthwick


1. & 2. —Always Now

the Jackdaws talk from dark to dark, voices chimpish in the low
conversations of pre-dawn: intimate and confiding
before the yelling at the sun & in the sun, time of the whirling wings & bickering
they will repeat to yell at the sun going & in the going sun,
their daily migrations around trees & cattlesheds,
the burn & the river that cut across
Crown land, & Cooper’s land, the Temple Woods
& the quarry flitted by Peregrines

3. & 4. — September to April

there are Whooper swans in the fields along the village road
& they bugle Iceland’s summersound as the light comes
& as it goes
& startle drivers with low glidings to land
on Mackenzie’s land
over which the pink-footed geese travel longwinter habit: out
from the coast first thing & inland,
a thousand on Doyle’s land, then Dryfe’s land, & Tulloch’s land
as the months wear on, whiffling to land, buzzing to rise: in
towards the sea again come night, later each night,
the earth tilting the season slowly back to light
to the sound of Greenland’s summer

5. & 6. — April to August

we make there early to avoid tourists
just after their return
& find one perched on the tree struck by lightning
years ago & it wheeps, reedy & high,
sound of a Senegalese river with sun recasting the water
& the Osprey bears off downriver then,
away from land held in trust for the nation
because of a warlord’s ruin
sometime before the extinction,
before the return with a Flounder from the coast


Dave Borthwick is a tramper of fields and stander in the rain, who also runs the MLitt Environment, Culture and Communication at the University of Glasgow’s satellite campus in Dumfries