The Oystercatcher Dreams | a Poem by Oliver Shrouder

In his dream

The skyline is quiet. The Oystercatcher

Peeps out from his rock-bed home

And listens to no one.

Here the air is strong. It does not shake or bend

Under the thunder of man.

The cool sun is cupped in endless dales,

Pinched into a pinprick kiss

For every feathered beast to drink.

But when the Oystercatcher wakes he remembers.

The heart of England has been broken


And patched together

With one labyrinthine suture of suburbia.

Men have walked away for months and returned

To see their pageant of nature drained away for profit.

They ask, ham-sandwich in hand,

‘Where do you suppose the Oystercatchers have flown?’

But the Oystercatcher has not left.

He cocoons his chicks with a limp wing

And faces the buffeting bamboo

Of these new concrete leaves.

He watches every stone collapse away,

One at a time,

As they cry out in a reticent tongue

Older than man,

Until they are gone.

The Oystercatcher dreams and presses

Its beak of fire to its plump gut, yet

They are all so cold. He hopes his children dream too,

Breathing the sea like men breathe progress,

Listening out for no gathering storm.

Just nodding for shellfish in prayer

To a mother otherwise forgotten.