A Poem by our Writer in Residence, David Gilbert


I trusted the lapwings, peewits 
so few of them now, 
swirling high then swooping the land, 
my breath, my air, my disparate  
gaze, fastening hard. 

Nobody knew more than I did 
that glinting green-blue-black swarm  
darkening the far fields,  

like a gathering army  
with a small skirmish to be won 

then driving at the dense reeds
upright by the waters  

released suddenly  
like a focused deluge  
from a low bristling cloud 

settling, at first 
like frenzied black dots  
amongst those pale wavering dashes. 

I scan the binoculars 
slowly, as each bird, one at a time 
stretches a lazed wing  
and tucks its head, dabbing  
at its soft white under-feathers. 

The skies knew what they were up to, 
ceding the necessary space 

for bright turquoise rain 
to fuel the air then flare then fall 
briefly, like thought 

or ideas  
or hope, left  
speckling the mudflats.  


© 2024 David Gilbert  

David Gilbert is Writer in Residence at Bethlem Gallery, author of ‘The Patient Revolution – how we can heal healthcare’ (Jessica Kingsley Press) and ‘The Rare Bird Recovery Protocol’ (poetry collection).

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