For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Ringed Plover By A Water's Edge

They sprint eight feet and -
stop. Like that. They
sprintayard (like that) and
stop.
They have no acceleration
and no brakes.
Top speed's their only one.

They're alive - put life
through a burning-glass, they're
its focus - but they share
the world of delicate clockwork.

In spasmodic
Indian file
they parallel the parallel ripples.

When they stop
they, suddenly, are
gravel.

NORMAN MACCAIG

Anyone who's ever seen ringed plovers do their run-and-pause routine - as I did at the edge of Sandwood Loch this summer - will instantly recognize MacCaig's snapshot description of them here. After a frenzied, clockwork sprint, they suddenly freeze - in perfect camouflage among the pebbles.

4 comments:

gleaner said...

Wow, I'm enjoying these poems.

TheChicGeek said...

Sounds like a really neat thing to see :D

Have a wonderful day!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What a great spasmodically rhythmic picture! I have not seen those birds but now feel I have.

Loren said...

I thought seriously about including this as one of my three favorites in his Selected Poems.

Black-Bellied Plovers are one of my favorite shorebirds to photograph.