Dusk, on a winter’s evening, overcast, cold,
a stiff offshore wind blowing in from the Irish sea
as people emerge from town streets,
in twos or threes or solitary, to see this miracle.
Small figures muffled to the ears all eyes
as the magnificence unfolds, rises over the pier:
billowing shapes swell and shrink again.

They arrive from all directions now:
swooping over the stone grey theological college:
flights of latecomers, anxious to join the show,
startle me as they whoosh by and I duck.
Then a great cloud of thousands zooms in:
migrants from snow-bound breeding grounds,
fleeing the cold, meld with resident birds.

Their roosting ground’s the pier, their treetops
the criss-cross of metal beneath.
Some plummet down at once and settle,
jostling into place, making space for latecomers,
chatting; it looks convivial, cosy even,
as spray breaks on the rocks below and
others swirl away again and return.

The ease, the magic, stretches our imagination:
no leader here, no choreographer, just thousands
riding the wing tips of each other’s flight;
no fight for survival, no fittest, no one
out for themselves and never mind the flock,
just soaring synchronicity against the sky,
a celebration as the sun sets.

We watch in awe: how do they do this? Why?
Have we forgotten we too can move together
through the world, and we do, sensing,
harmonising, interweaving, playing our part?
Have we forgotten what it’s like to surrender
our selves to the dance, to the joy of movement,
to being as one with each other?



Jenny Edkins is Professor of Politics at The University of Manchester and lives in Aberystwyth. Her poems have appeared in Acumen, Contexto Internacional, Inspirations (Einion Books, 2019), and Planet.