The Bittern (2nd prize: 2016 competition)

Mate-less
marginal
screened by reeds the other side of the marsh

terrestrial
averse to flight
shy of light, never seen but guessed

the buff barred breast-plumage
wry neck angled heavenwards
waiting for an echo over the grey-blue plateau of the lake.

A woomp sounds out of the wild,
dull boom of barge-hulls moored up in the mist.
Fish swirl in bafflement below the surface.

The cloudy trumpet blows again
carried on light airs
stiffening hairs on the back of the neck

vibrating old abandonments you thought were past
but have made a nest of twigs in the heart.