Bedern. Midnight geese

A place of alleyways
and turnings back,
each blocked
with drifts of shadow
black as soot.

Moonlight streams between
tall cliffs of brick,
paints windows slick
with silver.

Caught in the city’s underglow
a dozen greylags flicker overhead,
no higher than the housetops.
They call into the night –
a husky, booming note
like a blown reed.

York Minster. Dawn.

A sky blanching at the edges.
Pale stone and creeping shadows.

Crouched in a wind worn crevice
high above, a kestrel
turns her hooked head, hears
the clap of pigeon wings,
and flings over the edge,
steel grey and copper, stooped
from some old bestiary,

beak and talons reaching out for blood.

Love thirty – no thank you

I have decided that I don’t like tennis. I don’t mean the ” Plop ! Bounce ! Sorry!” tennis that I used to play on the municipal courts in the summer hols. That was fun, and we never bothered much about the score. I mean professional tennis, the ” Wapp! Argh ! Wallop ! Urgh !” kind of tennis that is wall to wall on tv at this time of year. How do I hate it ? Let me count the ways:

1.People treat it as though it’s actually important. It’s there – all the time. And when it’s over we get the post match interview, which dissects each forehand slash, each back hand flick. This discussion goes on for what seems hours. Tennis players have a special tone of voice – a dull, monotone delivery where every second word is ” I” as in ” I thought I played brilliantly today and I beat him because the training and my new manager who I selected have taught me how I can win …..” at this point old ladies fall asleep never to wake again, small birds fall stunned from the trees, and I realise I would have more fun pulling out my own teeth.

It’s not important. It’s just two millionaires trying to top up their bank accounts.

2. I hate the noises. The orgasmic roars. The petulant whispers to the umpire. It isn’t clever and it isn’t grown up, so just stop it this instant. I hate the cliche’d vocabulary of gesture- the fist pump of victory, the flinging down of the racket.

3.I hate the way the players look odd. They’re all so big – they have arms like legs and legs like race horses – all those flexing tendons. That’s just the women. And have you noticed that their eyes ( especially the men) are very close together ? And who is the very tall one ? The one whose head has its own weather ?

4. The story never changes. I hate that. All The Grand Slams are won by the same people over and over again. There’s always some plucky English girl who manages to get through to the second round- only to be hammered into the ground.But that’s part of the never-ending, never changing story.

5.The money has overtaken the game. A small band of enormously affluent athletes tramp across the globe, pitting their skills against each other in venue after venue.They’re not playing tennis because they enjoy it – they can’t, surely. Would you spend all your working life hitting a ball at your chum/opponent at the other end ?

They’re just going through the motions.

Thank goodness for cricket, I say. A wonderful game where nothing happens very slowly for five days.