"Pink Footed Geese at Over Kellie"

We know how far they have travelled
to be this event
in an otherwise motionless day;
the glare of descent
and the sound of them - not just

voices, but the funnelled
rowing of wingbeats,
tuned to the quick of our bones,
as we walk home over the bridge
by Knightsward Farm.

This is the closest we come
to wild, this living wave
of bodies, live
and blood-warm, at the chill point
of the year

when everything verges
on lull: the mind in its sleeve
of misgiving, and nothing sure
but frost and sky,
beneath this purposed joy.

 

John Burnside won the 2011 Forward prize for his collection "Black Cat Bone" (Jonathan Cape, £10)