Leaves fluttering down,
like startled birds, migrating:
home into the mulch


I come to the wood by the ring road
looking for silver-washed-fritillaries ...
but they are gone.
Gone with the hiding sun 
and rust at the leaf edge.
Gone with their hot flashes and frisky flipperty.

In a briar patch,
half flattened now by wind and rain,
I look for the red soldier beetles,
with their waving antennae, 
and shining articulated-lorry bodies
... but they are gone too. 
Why only last week
I watched their drunken orgies 
in the lilac thistle flowers ...
Gone, gone. 

Down at my feet a common meadow brown
folds into a triangle
and becomes a dead leaf.
Not for him the flash and exhibition. 
But he is here yet,
mixed in with shadows.


Ode to Siskin (our cat)



Sister and kin
Siskin, Whiskin, Siskie, Whiskie, Pusskin, Whooshkin,
Our names tumbling, adoring,
Affectionate, light-filled as your fur.

Your fur:
White, personal-warm, soft, gleaming
Bright as sunlit snow,
Fragrant as woods,
Thick for losing stroking fingers.

We met across the species divide
And found you wanting nothing
But a simple ride:
Food, warmth, affection,
A sill to look at the moon,
Your rent
a display of content
and for a stroke or a comb
a purr of entitlement.
Purrkin, Softkin, Sleepkin
Where are you now?

Siskin of the large vocabulary
Meaow became hellos through the night:
Hallooow Ha-a-lloo-aw,
“Siskin: Shushkin.”
Then through the day
finding a lapkin
yes, there, purrfect
Yes, risk a hand below
Siskin loving thiskin
then whizkin, time to go.
And feed me now, Naow,
Siskies biscies
I mean it, Na-OW
Not long a hungrykin,
Oh tubkin, pudkin
Where are you now?

Siskin friskin in the sunkin,
Exposing your tumkin.
Siskin risking shitting in the seed bed,
“Siskin Stansfeld: No-oh, ahoy, no-oh.”
Increasingly deafkin
Coming in grubkin and rubkin,
But always lubkin.
Siskin, dear siskin
Where are you now?

We buried you among oak roots
In a picnic basket
With your wind-up mouse
For the kitten in,
And a sprig of lavender,
Blood weeping from your nose
But your fur still warm,
Shining on, glosskin
Oh siskin, misskin, final kisskin,
Where are you now?

Siskin of the no worries kin
No future
or pastkin
in each moment you were in
Siskin, blisskin
You live on
in your teaching.


Silver-washed fritillaries

Janet and I spent this morning watching the wonderfully named ‘silver-washed fritillaries’.

Here comes one:

IMG_2952She’s a female.

IMG_2968She’s drinking nectar on a blackberry bush

IMG_2963This is what she looks like underneath and why they are called ‘silver-washed’. They are Britain’s largest fritillary and seem to be having a great year.

IMG_2951Here she is again, fluttering her wings to attract a male.

…….and here he comes:

IMG_2955You can tell he’s a male because of the four black stripes on his forewings. These are sex brands. When he finds a female they go on a lovely nuptial flight together flying over and under each other.

IMG_2970Then they land together and circling around her he tries to touch her antennae to his sex brands to arouse her further.

IMG_2971Here he seems about to succeed … or could they be heading for a … butterfly kiss?

We hope he was successful and that they had wonderful sex – for another generation of these awesome insects.

The hot orange joy of them quite took our breath away.