The Season Shifts

Groups of birds at evening
form and fall
along the housetops
they speed
where inconstant, late
days of April in the nervous year
await the breaking
of the bud, the spring’s call.

The effort of the sap mis-
takes, it dies
and nothing yet relaxes
in the shut ground.
Songs of birds at evening
form and fail
along the housetops
they drown
in continuous, broad
rain from indifferent skies.

May the first and second are still
days of rain and wind
not what
ballad-mongers had in mind, who paced
down drovers’ ways
to market meetings
through the beastly
plague- and pox-racked
greenly maiden land.

On May the third, two lines
of planes at last unpack
in slow explosion
on the air some
millions of leaves.
Each is a damp and burning thing.
Together they shine
the length of the street shouting with birdsong
that the spring is back.

Listen to this poem — read by Peter Hetherington