• Hugh Loxdale


The aerial spectacle,

Begun in May,

Continues throughout June, July

And on into August

In the clear pastel skies

Above town and English countryside;

Slick, curved black shapes,

Perfect designs

To cut and scythe

The sunlit air,

They swoop down —

Single, in formation or in line —

With effortless speed and grace,

Rolling, twisting, occasionally shrill screaming

As they come

To distribute death

Amongst the tiny, winged multitudes below.

But these are not the Spitfires, Hurricanes

Or Messerschmitts of old,

And the destruction they cause

Not the vengeance of a cruel war.

Rather, a perennial struggle

To feed, reproduce

And fly free again.

One that, maybe, will never end —

Assuming the Spring and they return —

Year after year

Long into the unimagined future,

Beyond human strife and bombs,

So that this most joyous scene shall remain,

The Swifts in full chase or play,

A certainty, a must

Each May...

And on into August.

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