Return to Home Page
      < Poems >

This page features recent work. More information on Aves can be found here. The pieces excerpted from the book below retain their original lineation, but what you miss in them, of course, is Essence Press's gorgeous typography in the book itself. A audio file of Gerry Cambridge reading the first piece below is available immediately below its text.

From: Aves

Acanthis cannabina

Its opening consonant the same as Love's, and its
centre a dwelling, a haven for the night, merging to
a noun that entangles and sustains, or else becoming
the French for "and", as in: what was the end of this
? Such a musical noun, nearly a rhyme with
"spinet", the small finch building tenderness hidden
in the needly clumps of the gorse. The bird of coconut
perfume, of the full fat butter of the gorse towns, of
wide sky and cumuli's soft explosions; the Maytime
perky songster. See that spiked hillside? Another
world is expectant in those yolk-yellow libraries: a
miniature book of four or five or perhaps six words
—all the one word, and its opening consonant the
same as Love's.

Gerry Cambridge reading Acanthis cannabina

Hirundo rustica

May had built its nest, mud, spit-glued to the
wall, lined with white feathers, in the corner
of the English class, altogether unlikely—but isn't
the world itself just that?—and flew in through a
window broken over a weekend holiday. The teacher,
an individual, let the nest stay, the pane unreplaced.
Ranked classes that May wrote on lined pages as
blood brooded over slow coalescences in the small
shells above our adolescent heads. When the chicks
hatched, the adults flicked in and out adroitly;
Shakespeare became difficult among sudden islands
of twitterings; then the five nestlings, brilliant-eyed,
peering out over row on row of blazered pupils. One
Monday morning, a gang of tweets teetered in a line
excited on a telegraph wire outside the class, swaying
for sudden balance when a crow alighted further
down: skiffs swivel-tipped in a horizon-liner's bowwave.
That winter, my six a.m. risings as a labourer
to frost-glitter and a scoured moon over dark Arran;
thought of those birds in African sunlight. Found in
my pocket, a small white quill I had prucht from the
lining of the nest.

Phalaropus tricolor

Some huge depression had gusted it, nine inches of
delicate sinew, three or four thousand miles off-
route, across the Atlantic. North American, usually
wintering in South America, that day in—was it
October? November?—1976 it flew in, out of the
clouds, at water-gleam below, to Shewalton sand
pit, Irvine, where two recent schoolboys saw it for
forty-five minutes; claimed it in light in a camera's
little black store as proof. Grey and black, needle-
billed,slenderly stepping, water almost up to its belly:
merely a record now in the Scottish Ornithologist's
Club's annals, only the fourth or the fifth ever
recorded for Scotland, and never noted or named
again, as far as we know. Its name, with a wishful
rhyme, after Alexander Wilson, the Paisley-born
ornithologist. Something must have startled it. I seem
to remember it bobbing, alertly, as at a peregrine
shadow; then winging up, out, away, diminishing,
losing wings, shrinking to a full stop, to invisible,
among clouds. What an image of wild anonymity,
that international traveller with its ticket of gales, a
live memory for this lined wood.