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Raft of Puffins, Camilla Theresa Reeve

Palewell Press, 2016  £6.00 + p&p

Ticket to somewhere special

This is one of those pamphlets with a very strong sense of setting – as its normally London-based author takes up temporary residence alongside the birds of Skomer Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire. And it is rather special – to find oneself transported, with her, there.

The book’s production values are modest (I for one would prefer not to have ‘/continued’ printed on pages where poems run over, for instance) but the simple white paper format with rather beautiful black and white photos does draw me. It’s a bit like being invited in to someone’s travel journal.

And I do feel transported – to the Skomer Island bird sanctuary. Of all rather wonderful places: ‘At night I shook with cold / and recollected wonders – / a dark rain-carved horizon…’ (‘Seven day wonders’). Or: ‘Darkness falls, / shrouds the ground. / A foghorn calls. / Tankers out there / plough through sea…’ (‘Walking back alone after Bird Log’).

Alongside the poet, briefly, our world of concerns blissfully shrinks to what’s important here:

Word reaches me from other birding sources –
a visitor saw a mass of Manx Shearwaters
pass while he stood at St. Anne’s Head;
“Guillemots are coming,” claim researchers…
      (‘Bird Sanctuary Volunteer’)

And some of the bird observations are really lovely: it’s a peaceful place in which to spend some time, reading. Here is ‘Skylark’:

With folded wings
she’s treading out
steps of a country dance,
this way and that,
perhaps to conjure ants.

Charlotte Gann