I saw them once at Aberystwyth Pier,
before I knew what a murmuration was,
or even that they were starlings,
never mind their Welsh name, or if they had one.
Again years later near the racecourse
as we walked by the canal.
Today they fly over your garden,
I was going to say like plumes of smoke
from your chiminea, then I see that
in fact it is smoke. When they come
in the other direction they are not camouflaged,
but like tea leaves in glass as the water's poured,
or glitter in a snow globe.
It's not their call you hear
but the flapping of their wings;
not the size of the flock that surprises,
but the birds themselves.
Peter J Donnelly lives in York, where he works as a hospital secretary. His poetry has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including Dreich and Writer's Egg. He recently won second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival competition.