Imagine if you will a rather forgotten stretch of the Mersey, on the north bank in winter and with the Welsh hills some way distant. It is very early morning.

In the silence of low tide you hear something that gives full justice to that wonderful, yet often overused word – uncanny. These words were an attempt to give some conception to that fragile landscape, both aural and visual, elicited by an alarm call of the Grey Heron.

This poem features in the new collection of works Vallum, published this month.


Why the Heron shriek?
Out of the ether,
Phantom-like, the voice of the dead
Thrust unheard from the throat of the living.
Lost in the marram,
Fleeing the advancing tide.
Yet heard, for one,
To wonder at the spring
From whence the craw came forth.
The neck, so lithe,
Snake-like for enfolding hands to grasp
And grimly squeeze,
Just as advancing waters grip the sand
To wrench a lurking roar
From this mercuric land.
I hear you, but do not understand.

© 2018 J A Elcock

Reproduced by permission from Vallum, published 2018 by The Artel Press.

Postscript.  Fleetingly also enter this moment, in sound. (Credit: Stuart Fisher)