When I reach the half landing I will always
pause and at least glance through the long window
that frames garden, high wall, terraced roofs
and sky. I saw, one time, against roseate clouds
lit by the setting sun and billowing
in an easterly wind, dark like a line
of dancing letters, flock after flock
of black-headed gulls, crossing the compass
south east from the drowned meadows of the Dee
to the Mersey’s low tide mud flats north west.
For the last of the stragglers to pass,
it took long enough for a poem to catch,
for that slow, flickering, certain fire to take.
And I thought of caribou on the Tundra,
salmon in the Aleutians, swallows
over Timbuktu – and our loved ones,
their small migration north.