‘Swallows’ by John Freeman







Cool morning, scorching afternoon. A walk

through yellow fields, now across this farmyard.

On one side of the path in the air, a twitch,

a flicker, then another flicker, winking

in and out of gaping semi-darkness.

I step aside under a towering doorway.

Up there in the gloom, among the rafters,

a concentration of blackness is stirring

around a bubbling centre of dark life.

Back at the bright entrance there are four, five,

six chances to unriddle the sudden blur,

the curving wings, forked tail, flashes of white,

snipping sounds like a busy hairdresser’s.

I blunder back out into the daylight

and rejoin my companions where the path

opens on a deserted lane. Above us,

on telegraph wires in swags over a hedge,

a row of them seem queuing to be admired,

silhouetting on blue their slinky grace.

Then there are cream teas in a farm garden

while, at the periphery of vision,

shadows are swooping against walls, and beyond

living shapes transforming wires to staves,

whispering their music into the darkness

of memory like a nest high in a barn

they will return to, summer after summer,

into which, from the paths of careful thought,

I will step aside to be astonished

again as they explode out of nowhere,

past me, to the dazzling summer sunshine.


Lonely 2 bJohn Freeman’s White Wings: New and Selected Prose Poems appeared from Contraband Books in 2013. Previous collections include A Suite for Summer (Worple Press), and The Light Is Of Love, I Think: New and Selected Poems (Stride Editions). Stride also published a collection of essays, The Less Received: Neglected Modern Poets. He taught for many years at Cardiff University and lives in the Vale of Glamorgan.



‘Swallows’, alongside two other new poems by John Freeman, is featured in Issue Two of The Lonely Crowd, which can be purchased here.

Copyright © John Freeman. Image and author photograph: Copyright © Jo Mazelis.