Poem 176 – Riverbank Sketches I

The Cormorant:
He holds his head up high
to look down upon us.
His curled haughty lips
suggest amusement.
I doubt he’s ever glimpsed
his own reflection in
the ripples – unless his smirk
disguises self-denial.

The cormorant’s smile caught my attention as we walked along the Lea yesterday. I’ve grown to love these comical birds, so graceful in the water, yet so clumsy looking in the air or on the bank wings outstretched to dry.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by JJ Harrison licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Poem 175 – Soundscape

The wind’s white noise cannons against my ears
along with percussive rattling of jostling trees.
A distant car alarm melds with an avian
sentry, sounding an urgent, shrill reveille.
The muffled sound of barking blends into
the lapping of the usually languid Lea.
Astride their balance bikes, delighted children
point out serendipitous discoveries.

A blowy day for a lunchtime stroll by the River Lea.

© Ben Quant 2023

Poem 172 – Life’s Cycle

Tonight we buried a newt,
a cheeky chap who kept
his gills, those pink and flappy
fronds that waved hello.
A Peter Pan who stayed
in Neverland’s waters
from whence he cheered us on.
He’d flit and spin in joy
with energy unbound,
confounding expectation.
Alas, eternal youth
ran out, Tick-Tock caught up.
We laid you by the pond
and as we did a nearby
dart alerted us to
the first newt of the spring.
The cycle starts again.

To Dennis, our delightful friend.

We have a small garden pond in our garden which became home to numerous young newts last year, some of whom were adopted and brought inside. Sadly one passed away yesterday. He’ll be missed.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Piet Spaans shared under CC Licence 2.5

Poem 165 – At the Edge

The nip of winter tarries
But spring has tentatively
Emerged to test the waters
One toe at first, before
It casts aside its towel
And joyously commits to
An eruption of colour and life
One glorious bellyflop!

The days are beginning to stretch. Bulbs are putting out their feelers. The car didn’t need scraping this morning…

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Unsplash

Poem 164 – Flights of Fantasy

With flick of fanned out tail, the Kite flies deftly,
    With dancer’s grace, descends through applauding sky,
    Performs a pirouette, majestic dive,
Then swoops and thus commits audacious theft.
Through avian guile she artfully steals my breath
    And gripping firm, takes flight, and rises high.
    Leaving my standing ovation behind, she flies
Into the distance, fading. I’m bereft.
Sometimes I wish that I possessed her freedom.
    Perhaps I do! I have no wings but in
Their place imagination’s feathers thrust
    Me upwards seeking visions of what could be.
Their range is more than hers has ever been,
    Could dreaming meet this reaching wanderlust?

Red kites have recently established themselves in our neighbourhood. One regularly frequents the air above our garden. Watching it’s effortless flight inspired this sonnet, although it’s taken most of the week to knock it into some sort of shape.

© Ben Quant 2023
Image: Tim Felce (Airwolfhound), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Poem 163 – Morning Migration

Somewhere a switch is flicked, a catch released.
Eager luminescent salmon shoot
nocturnal traps, migrate the lofty spray,
a duvet stretched, inviting pillow plump.
Chasing behind, our newborn day.

A glorious pink sunrise picked out the teased out clouds this morning. Could have captured it with my phone, instead used words.

© Ben Quant 2023

Poem 161 – After the Rain


A Sunday afternoon stroll around the New River, Top Field and Baas Hill Common. Although the sky was blue and the sun was out, the waterlogged paths definitely required boots.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/ko7Tp_LyAt4

Poem 160 – Four Faced

A pool of many personalities.
    Its winter water takes a earthy shade
    Of darkened substance, solid, birds can wade
Upon its surface, under weary trees.
Last month it shivered, sharp, began to freeze
    And whilst the shrieking scarf-wrapped children played,
    Across it’s face an ice-white mask was laid,
Its morgue-like stillness made us ill at ease.
But soon the hope of life will bud and spring,
    The water turn, aping the light’ning skies,
And nests constructed, frisky foul will play.
    Look, summer migrants come on tired wings!
Descend, this paradise their temporary prize,
    For now, its Janus face, a place to stay.
Today, as is often our practice, we went for a stroll around Lea Valley’s lakes. These water filled pits are constantly fluid, their faces changing with the season. Today they were dark and moody, matching their muddy banks. Another sonnet.

© Ben Quant 2023

Poem 153 – Blank Canvas

This is a liminal place,
Where sky and earth do meet,
And merge in bright harmony.
Autumn’s colours spent,
Erased, left brilliant white,
Perhaps, a new beginning?
A chance to make our mark,
Afresh. Along with spiders,
Who have already traced,
The outline of each edge
In brittle silk, picked out
And sparkling, crystalline.

Yesterday we woke to find Lea Valley submerged in snow. Beautiful and mysterious. On our afternoon walk, at each turn I expected to find Mr Tumnus, but alas he never showed, only the muntjac deer and robins. We did not return, however, disappointed.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 152 – Sharp December

The paper air is sharp
Airways are invaded
Eyes begin to water
Cold smears across my face
Malicious needles prick
In bitter unison
My feet go numb and die
A death by a thousand cuts

This morning’s North wind brought a bitter bite alongside Jack Frost’s winter beauty.

© Ben Quant 2022