In the Pentlands

Allison Funk Click to

Allison Funk is the author of four books of poems, most recently The Tumbling Box from C&R Press, 2009. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Poetry, Paris Review, Prarie Schooner, and the Cincinnati Review. She is Professor of English at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Allison Funk: In the Pentlands
Here, where I am buffeted,
      barely able to stand,
a kestrel hangs
      impossibly still in the wind.
I envy its otherness,
      its look of being somewhere else—

far from where I’ve scrabbled
      up the slope, unloosening scree
as I climbed, lacking altogether
      the grace of this hawk
becalmed in mid air.  Becalmed
      despite gusts strong enough
to rend a sail in the firth,
      that blue hem
at the end of these hills.

      I want down.
Without tripping over moles
      tunneling their runways
under my feet. Sheep, stones, shrew
      half-hidden in the upland grasses—
all of us tilting toward sea level,
      exposed as the skylark
and golden plover that veer
      in the airspace between Scald Law
and the kestrel’s barely quivering wings.

      It’s a recurring dream
I have of hovering, the calm
      I call kestrel in this storm.
Waking I know even the bird’s lift
      is short-lived. The hair’s-breadth
between heather and heath,
      those seconds before it plunges
headlong into a vole.


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