Science  Write  Now

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Some say they have always been here, pattern

auguries their ancient fame; others, that a species-drift

southward around the time of the jazz age renewed

their numbers.

                        By whatever ark of arrival or remaining,

the plane and ilex trees, the cypresses swollen

into night-roosts, murmur with comfort and lore,

forage sites swapped for warmth, density the currency 

of survival amid this melody of Italian place names.


The peregrine falcon is ever-present, ever-vantaged, 

eyesight that scans a mile out, unmatched speed, 

reaction time thirteen times as fleet as man’s.

If our eyes held their gravity, they would weigh

four pounds and span three inches. 

                                                       To the artist,

when the starlings take to the sunlit wing,

they are rhapsodies of graphite, a shape-shifting

stencil, a pointillist accordion.  

                                                To the scientist,

they blur the peregrine’s laser, crowd out

the singular prey, each bird the vertex 

of a seven-pointed star that, with its confidants,

knits a synaptic galaxy of beauty and evasion.  Each bird

senses the flock through its seven peers as the centre

expands, the flank contracts, speed unwavering

despite the alternating appearance.  On the computer

screen the mystery unbuttons, the awe swells anew.

Feature image by Eliza Brightwen