Watching Winter Waders Poem by C Richard Miles

Watching Winter Waders

I pause to cross the rough-hewn, part-patched, shaky step
Of weathered fence-stile on my winter walk, to stop,
Sit on the stoop and gaze across the yellowing scene
To where, in summer, swaying grass-blades graced the crop.

Now once-lush, marsh-side meadow turns to transient tarns
Abandoned by storm-soddened sheep and cold-chilled cows
To brave the bitter breeze on drier, steeper slopes
Or crave, for comfort, sheltered barns and byres to browse.

All sullen, silent shimmer in fast-fleeting shards
Of feeble sunlight in the short December day,
Framed on the flatness of once-verdant valley floor,
Full-flooded fields surrender garish green to grey.

Rare respite-havens from harsh, harrowing, biting blast,
Between gaunt, gritstone walls and half-drowned, sunken stile
All lichen-garnished, temporary mud-mired pools
Grant tardy. migrant waders welcome rest a while.

They catch a moment marshalling their half-spent strength
As, almost loath to struggle to a stuttering start,
They droop lank limbs and utter plangent, plaintive calls
Till sudden storm-clouds summon time for them to part.

And then, responding, wakened by that clarion call,
Like clouds themselves, they stretch out rested wings and soar
And jaunt to join their timely kin in warmer climes
To sojourn, avian refugees from raging winter’s war.

I rue my inability to fly like them
That leave this passing lakeland, bound to foreign shore,
For I am left, forsaken by the feathered horde
To cower from the cold, as showers return and pour.

Had I their wings, foul frost could never be my foe;
I would not fear fierce, raw, wild winds and lashing rain
But I would miss my homeland, though the sun should shine
So, on this step, I still sit here and long remain.

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