Red kites, native to Turkey, Morocco, and parts of Europe, were declared ‘vermin’ by the English crown and hunted nearly to extinction. They have been successfully reintroduced to the UK since 1989.
No red kites over the field this morning.
However hard I looked, I could not find
A single cresting pair, their high crosses
Invisible —as if unpitched from the grass.
No dry swoop, no sounding. No clatter from
Morning’s fed sparrows rising in alarm.
No hare’s carcass eaten behind our wall,
Nothing astir. No courting on the fell
In curious patterns, no stumbling display
Of swift shadows bending above the Wye.
No haunt. No song. Only the heaven’s blue
Graceless fire, and then as a ghost pursued
Across a moor, the hunting-horn’s burly
crucify, crucify, crucify.
Theophilus Kwek is the author of three collections, ‘They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue’ (2011), ‘Circle Line’ (2013), and ‘Giving Ground’ (2016). He won the Martin Starkie Prize in 2014 and the Jane Martin Prize in 2015, and is President of the Oxford University Poetry Society.