The garden creaks. We do a round,
checking for hedgehogs, feel the snow
slide off our sweaters. Back in bed,
this glare keeps me awake –
harder than moonlight, trees adrift.
The sky stays foreign, sepia-pink,
snaps crusts, shifts dunes,
turns grass to grainy beach – brings cormorants,
Atlantic breakers and compacted sand,
pelicans flying high. Those holes
were made by silver crabs; and here
stand oystered mangroves where the egrets land.
You sleep, I dream. Our garden fills
with angels’ shadows, angels’ wings.
As though the stilts weren’t enough,
the distant dip of flamingos,
or the godwits and sanderlings
stood in their silver strips –
just as we have to head back
to the airport, the sky fills
with storks, slow swirls
over the Souss, all those legs
lowered for landing. I pull
my fleece on tighter, breathing in
through sun-scoured skin – my lips
almost too chapped for a grin.
She had hoped for a hare.
Just one, something fast and mad,
ripping the moon-damp fields,
a thumper like herself.
Instead, after half an hour,
when her sneakers were soaked,
and the mist had dropped
like a bowl over Cherbury Camp,
muntjacs stepped out of the cloud;
paused for a moment, scarcely parting
the pearl and mushroom air; then ran
in trinity towards the copse.
Annette Volfing is Professor of Medieval German Studies, Oriel College, Oxford. Her poems have appeared in (or are forthcoming in) Magma, The Interpreter's House, Other Poetry, The Oxford Magazine, Snakeskin, Neon, Ink Sweat and Tears, Smiths Knoll, Sentinel and Antiphon.