The marvel is
           that this dead world
that we have all around us
           will suddenly spring to life
Yesterday I shivered
           under a frosty sky
Out on a Hampstead street
           I heard the caw of a magpie
and looking up watched
           as it abandoned its nest
high up in the bare branches :
           it flew south-south-east
heading for the city centre
           Too early for any eggs
to have been laid
           perhaps it had merely
paid a call to ensure
           that every twig and blade 
was in order in preparation
           for the new clutch
I thought too
           of the homing instinct
that such birds have
           such a powerful tool
in the preservation
           of the species
and how birds
           in their own way
are such masters
           of time and space

John Lyons


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