XRC Poetry: Kestrel

November 26, 2019

Kestrel – Peter Fowler

Sometimes I used to drive

To work, through farm land –

Through countryside

And often I would see

Sitting up high

Up, on a telegraph pole,

A kestrel,


To find and fix its prey,

Or launch itself

To hover in the sky

And then:

In a newspaper article I read,

It said

That: “Scientists seek to explain

The mechanism of the kestrel’s hovering …”

By looking

“Inside the kestrel brain.” Yet …

They won’t experiment on living birds,

But only on those they find

By the sides of roads, where

Thoughtless, speeding humanity exerts its will.

A solution to road-kill, perhaps?

Perhaps – perhaps not!

Perhaps the ‘solution’ to road-kill is not to kill.


They (the scientists) dissect the kestrel mind

Then publish scientific papers,

In academic journals,

On the nothings that they find.

This investigation –

This clinical dissecting eye –


The randomness and fragility

Of kestrel lives;

The hovering

From the need to feed,

To survive –

Hovering in the breath

Of life;

Of death

Why is it so easy to forget

A kestrel is a bird – a living thing,

Embedded – integral

Not separate

From its surroundings –

Its environment:

The field where it flies?

A nexus of mutual interactions –

A flow of information between

Ground and prey; and

Eye; (and) wind and wing.

And this I’ve seen

At Old Hall Marsh Farm,

In Essex: a kestrel mother

Making two juveniles to hover:

To dodge and dive

At each other,

Above the sea wall,

Where they learn

To catch their Prey

That they might survive

– avoiding Death

By taking Life

To live another day.

And so, now,

If I see a kestrel sitting up high:

Up on a telegraph pole;

Or hovering in the skies,

I know that

If that kestrel doesn’t eat that day –

Doesn’t find and fix and kill its prey



It dies.

Peter Fowler, November 2019

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