A peregrine sallies from the cathedral spire
and glides to the comer of the sky’s page. Then
it works its strong wings rapidly along a line.
As I watch, I feel a history between us,
where a browsing deer hears the first stroke of the axe
in Cratloe, then it flees from Dunraven’s beagles,
to be captured by her ladyship’s aquarelle.
Gatelodge and gate still survive in many places
to mark the passage of the hunters and painters
when a falcon’s light commanded empty spaces.
Now the needle of a plane pulls its double thread
across the azure afternoon and lets it fray
for those who stay here beside the wide estuary,
with otters and wildfowl pictured in the parlour
as a sign of peace. Three mallard fly up the stairs,
snipe and woodcock are copied onto crockery,
an amateur sun is framed in my cousin’s hall
and she says, ‘Come in,’ in the accent I know well.