top of page
  • Writer's pictureLori Brack

Bird Watching through a Book

Book: The Peregrine by J.A. Baker

Baker walks the water's edge near his home on the east coast of England and watches the birds, keeping an eye out for peregrines. He teaches readers that a falcon is a female peregrine and a tiercel is the smaller male. Baker catalogues the hawk's kills along the estuary and in the fields, all the while spotting and describing the other birds, most of them new to me: widgeon, godwit, dunlin, fieldfare. Aren't those words pieces of poetry? Try this passage, which I read this morning:

The snipe lay half submerged in flooded grass, cryptic even in death. The kingfisher shone in mud at the river's edge, like a brilliant eye. He was tattered with blood, stained with the blood-red colour of his stumpy legs that were stiff and red as sticks of sealing wax, cold in the lapping ripple of the river. He was like a dead star, whose green and turquoise light still glimmers down through the long light-years.

The beginning of the first sentence here is perfect iambic pentameter: the SNIPE lay HALF subMERGED in FLOODed GRASS. And the image of that dead kingfisher - from red sealing wax to a green and turquoise star glimmering - I have only one word and I use it in all its meanings: ravishing.

20 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

Inside Giovanni's Room

Rarely in my reading life, a book makes itself brilliant in the last pages. James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room works that way. It dazzles in its last chapters not only because the characters come to thei

Historical Pynchon avoidance

The professor teaching the modern American novel that summer wore white polyester trousers so we could see his colored briefs. He went over the syllabus the first day and waxed academically profound a

Poetic Personal Experience (and social media)

Karen Craigo was the poetry editor at a couple of journals where my poems have appeared, and we communicate via Facebook but have never met in person. A benefit of Facebook, which I generally deplore

1 Comment

Mar 25, 2020

This is a lifetime favorite book. Baker never learned to drive, and lived a quiet life as a clerk. He rode his bicycle for miles to keep his journal of bird life. Too, too wonderful. So glad to see him here.

bottom of page