Swallows in March
by Roger Abdul Wahhab Boase
Invisible pewits are calling musically across the marshes
at the southern edge of the Ampurdan plain,
lashed this morning by a cold gale
speeding fresh from the white Pyrenees.
Beneath the wind-swept pines
near the steep path to the disused well,
a pied wagtail elegantly wags its black and white tail.
Meanwhile, on the road to the Riomar Hotel,
three magpies are quarrelling in the tamarisk trees.
But old Pepe, who goes to his huerta every day,
does not seem to know their names.
In and out of their nesting holes
in the stone crevices of the fortress church
and in the brown fibres of the tall palm,
swallows are now darting at the speed of bats.
They swoop and silently skim
the slow stream before it enters the sea,
catching the flies newly-hatched in spring.
Then they gather to chatter on my roof at noon.
Deceived by messages of a mild winter,
and with a cross-border freedom envied by Idris,
my night-watchman friend in Fez,
the swallows had surely sped north too soon?
But old Pepe had not noticed they were back.
© Copyright Abdul Wahhab Boase, London, October 2004