Watching them dive
The first thing that attracts me is the glide.
A company of gannets, each the shape of Concorde,
white and wide, riding the wind’s waves
to pass one another in the air,
give an aerobatic show of tilted wing tip,
such speed to gather to wing lock, power dive
a plunging of gannets.
Then the terns come, sea swallows,
a cotillion of tumbling snowflakes
at play with the southerly wind.
The sea is rough and cold, but full of fish.
They bundle, flock, dive with quick jabs,
call to each other, sharp music,
light as glass.
At dusk, a cormorant flies home,
black, heavy outline against dark sea.
Ted Hughes had a paper round
and so did I, in the Calder valley,
toiling through winter mornings,
so dark it felt like night, with an awkward bag
heavy on my shoulder, stuffed with papers
and their acrid newsprint smell.
I’d get up at six, before anyone else,
I still like that, the house to myself.
The empty streets felt surreal, lit and shadowed.
I met foxes, moved between worlds,
lost a sense of myself as girl, became stronger,
bolder, lone adventurer, unobserved.
Each house offered difference: a gateway
or steps, a door with a letter box, a landing
or hatch. Occasionally a dog barked.
I knew each one – how often to fold,
how hard to push. A daily odyssey,
two miles or more, with one simple goal,
to deliver them all, get home for breakfast,
then walk to school.
A Whale in my Window
She swam by my window,
a whale so close.
That was when a humpback
came to the bay on my birthday
and to eat the shoals of silver
that swirled and flew the wintry sea.
When you speed up the song
of a humpback whale,
it sounds like birdsong.
Rose Cook lives in Totnes. She co-founded the popular local poetry and performance forum One Night Stanza, as well as poetry performance group Dangerous Cardigans.
She is one of Apples & Snakes‘ poets and has performed at many venues from the Soho Theatre in London to the Blue Walnut in Torquay.
Her latest book, Hearth, is published by Cultured Llama.