The Wildfowler

In the dark before the dawn the wildfowler waits;

the goose dawn,
the duck dawn,
the red anglian winter dawn.
Far out on the flats the grey geese are huddled
while underneath the old man’s arm the cold-barrelled shotgun’s cuddled.

In the dark before the dawn the wildfowler’s crouched;
the plovers’ dawn,
the dunlins’ dawn,
the killing dawn behind him.
Far out where the shore-line begins to stutter
the wind cleaves the beaches and the geese start to mutter.

In the dark before the dawn the wildfowler remembers;
The winters’ dawn,
the frosts’ dawn,
the cold east-coast dawn.
Far out the memory-flecked tide is turning
and there’s an ache in the old man’s chest that’s burning.

In the waking light of dawn the grey geese are flying;
The talon’s dawn,
the beak’s dawn,
the hungry double-barrelled dawn.
Far out amongst the geese’s growing din
there swoops the sickle-winged peregrine.

In the waking light of dawn the wildfowler’s still;
The dark dawn,
the dead dawn,
the lonely wildfowlers’ dawn.
Far out on the marsh the flocks are wheeling
and towards where the old man lies in the mud, the black tide comes stealing.

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4 thoughts on “The Wildfowler

  1. Thanks Steve. I struggled to catch bass in Thornham channel last Summer, after the previous Summer catching loads, but all on bait. The tide comes up it 3 hours before high tide. Hopefully see you at Snettisham again if they re-stock it!

  2. My late grandfather Sqd Ldr Michael Townsend, was an avid wildfowler and president of the Wildfowlers Association (now BASC). He had an amazing collection of guns, one of which we still have which is a converted flint lock wall gun. The poem is very poingnant, do you know who it's by?

  3. Actually I wrote it; thank you very much for your kind words Oonagh. I like the first three verses, the fourth is OK, but I couldn't quite seem to get the last verse how I wanted it somehow.

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