Poem of the week: Sandpipers at Rosslare

A new work by Bernard O’Donoghue

Sandpipers pattering to and fro. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The standard procedure is to fill up
with petrol just past the long scenic drop
down into Dungarvan, to drop the bags
at the Rosslare Lodge and drive to the beach
behind the Ferryport where our boat is
all business, preparing to set off.
It will reach Wales and then cross back for us
to embark in the morning. As the twilight
deepens, the on-off of the Tuskar Light
finds its range; we are watching a stonechat
swaying precariously on its perch.
At the water's edge a small flock of sandpipers
is pattering to and fro, letting us almost
catch up, then shrilling off in a sparkling v
of flight to settle on a new ridge of sand,
fifty yards ahead. This is where they live;
it's where they will be when we next start out
from this same perfect point of departure.

Bernard O’Donoghue’s most recent books of poetry are The Seasons of Cullen Church and Farmers Cross (both published by Faber & Faber)