NATURAL SELECTION


Sitting on the bench on our patio, sipping

our peppermint teas one August morning,

we saw five buzzards leisurely circling

the church spire, a quintet of raptors,

four of a kind – and a joker for crows

and jackdaws to mob. But what is the prey

in this suburb for so many to survive?

 

The Romans built a road from Deva

to the salt pans on the plain over this heath

and its brook and through its hollows. Heather

and gorse, under the Normans, became

a habitat for outlaws – until

the overgrown road was used for droving beasts

in their hundreds, thousands to market.

Prisoners of the ‘45 were tried

where the brook turns north. When the railways came,

developers built villas and terraces –

between the wars, semis. Bedsits and druggies

arrived. But we are gentrified now –

sharing with the Brown Rat our good fortune.

 

The first buzzard I ever saw was perched

in an oak in the Ogwen Pass. Gamekeepers’

poison, myxie rabbits and pesticides

had all but extinguished them from the lowlands.

The gamekeepers went to war, 5 per cent

of the rabbits survived, pesticides

were regulated and these predators

thrived, needing less sustenance per day

than kestrels or sparrow hawks or kites –

being ambushers and opportunists.

So, here’s to the buzzards and the rats –

and us, lords of them all!

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by Ian Craine - August 24th, 2016 at 10:45

    Another lovely poem. That mysterious Flookers Brook appearing and disappearing through my childhood. Past allotments long gone. Culverted, hidden away, but still there, ever flowing beneath us.

  2. #2 by Mary Clark - September 3rd, 2016 at 01:02

    Good title. Wry sense of humor.

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