Marsh Harrier

Silhouetted by a grey sunrise,

a shallow ‘V’ emerged from the fenland mist;

gliding low along the reeds of Hurn dyke,

mere metres from the ground.


A cold wind tugged from the east

and its form faulted, just once;

flattening, then twisting, before

disappearing behind a saltern rise.


My eyes traced along corrugated earth,

the undulating curves of the saltern

a reminder of an iron age;

of salt-making and industry; of history, and settlements.

Now just another ploughed field,

the ancient mound receded

and the ‘V’ reappeared;

a steady movement over a blurred horizon.


Perhaps for the last time

I crouched beneath the old horse-chestnut trees;

nettle stalks and grasses limp at my knees.


It was larger now; fingers wide and upturned,

black tips emerging from

broad bands of brown and white.


He called out to me,

tail fanned and wide, twisting skyward; his

ghostly scream a

warning in the air.


Flickering above bare branches he

turned towards the east; his

black outline once more a

silhouette in the sky.


I wondered whether

he would return in the summer

when the horse-chestnuts were gone and

the houses had been built.


He drifted away, form and colour

fading back to grey.

A shallow ‘V’, low and gliding over the fields, the

marsh harrier then merged into the fenland mist.



Jeremy Barron