Look to your Lesser Linen

Red Kite, photographed by Tim Flach for a 2019 Royal Mail collection

Look to your Lesser Linen

Red kites are as red
As golden eagles are golden,
And seen against the sky, they’re just as black.
But there’s no mistaking that forking tail
And fingered wings on which they sail,
As slowly they embolden,
Advertising how they’re back.

Just when Milton Keynes was thriving,
So they were released upon
Our unsuspecting hills and country towns –
From Chiltern ghosts to national fame,
So barely flapping, barely tame,
From Leighton Buzzard to Ducklington,
From Salisbury Plain to the Sussex Downs.

They breached the M25, of course,
And rode the tarmac thermals on,
Lazily and low above the brownfields and the parks –
Ev’ry year they’re getting closer
To the busker, judge, and grocer,
Hamstead Heath and Kensington,
Beneath their ever-wider arcs.

These eagles of the suburbs
Are circling over school-run traffic,
Just above the High Street rooftops, watching us all day.
The City has its peregrines,
But those are rare and tiny things,
But these commuters are so graphic,
Newly neighbours here to stay.

Picking up the roadkill,
Perching on the weathervane,
Weaving litter into nests, and drinking from the overflows,
Stealing produce from the barrows,
Scattering the cockney sparrows –
Maybe London once again
Shall be a town of kites and crows.

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