Little Tern Colony, Kilcoole
In shallow nests among pebbles
most of the eggs survived the high tides.
August slips into September – the fledglings,
light as whelk shells, get ready to fly.
The sun and stars will guide them,
and though they’ll be hungry, thirsty, cold,
the earth’s magnetic field
will pulse in their hearts like hope.
‘One day, while wondering how to write about Covid-19, I visited the little tern colony at Kilcoole. It’s impossible to watch those birds nesting close to the tideline without thinking about loss, survival and courage in the face of danger. Months after the onset of the pandemic, we are grieving the loved ones we’ve lost. We’re struggling with finding safe ways to connect with each other, learn together and make a living. The little terns will soon begin their journey south to winter in West Africa. Like them, we’re facing into the unknown, using our instincts and ingenuity to go on.’
Jane Clarke is the author of two poetry collections, The River and When the Tree Falls (Bloodaxe Books 2015 & 2019), as well as an illustrated chapbook, All the Way Home, (Smith|Doorstop 2019). In 2020 When the Tree Falls was shortlisted for the Pigott Poetry Prize, the Irish Times Poetry Now Award and the Farmgate Café National Poetry Award as well as being longlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize. Originally from a farm in Roscommon, Jane now lives in Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow. She combines her writing with group facilitation, creative writing teaching and mentoring