Plague birds, exquisite and focused,
who scavenged Shakespeare’s unspeakable
streets, they have drifted back
from the borderlands of extinction
on tense, splayed wings.
in the rinsed clarity of spring light
they have staked their claim
to limitless acres above
the Chilterns’ wooded heights.
And was it months, or even a year,
my own dreams of flying
took possession of sleep,
making something of nothing
in gaps between the days?
– My free falls and soaring
seeming purposeless, inspired,
until, ceasing, they left me earthbound,
trying to keep my eyes
on this twisting road.
David Cooke was born in 1953 in Wokingham and grew up in Reading, although his family comes from the West of Ireland. He has been writing poems, somewhat sporadically, since his teens. In 1977, while he was still an undergraduate at Nottingham University, he won a Gregory Award, and since then his poems have been published widely in the UK, Ireland and beyond. He has also managed, in spite of long periods of poetic silence, to publish seven collections of his work. His first Two Rivers collection was A Murmuration (2015) and he is delighted that later this year Two Rivers Press will also be publishing Sicilian Elephants, from which ‘Red Kites’ has been taken. He is the editor of the online literary journal, The High Window, which he founded in 2015.