I pause at the long window where the stairs turn.
The first hard frost of the season has rimed
the moss on the terrace. A neighbour has thrown,
as she does daily, stale bread on the flat roof
of her garage. Two Jackdaws arrive
then a small flock of Black-headed gulls
in winter plumage. The first comers
are aggressive. The gulls hover, swoop, feint,
feed swiftly, rise, return – like dancers.
(How truly ancient is these animal’s
ancestry! How arriviste we primates are!).
All, even the crows, are utterly silent.
I think of last summer: a beach in heat haze
and our three and a half year old grand daughter,
chuckling, chasing, gently, a Black-headed gull –
that had been intent on scavenging
crusts and crisps among the profligate –
then watching it take wing into the mist.
By the year’s end, to my unceasing surprise,
we will be seventy one. We have been
together many more years than apart,
so best to assume we will always be here –
and be deaf to the certainty of silence.