4 poems by Rachel Burns


An otter appears from the skein of bubbles on the water’s surface 

popping its head up from the shadow snag of fallen trees

I’m surprised to see him; I stand and stare 

and speak to him in a friendly sort of way

watching as he dives, slips back under and head popping back up

then slipping back under, fast mover, presumably hunting trout

in the water’s black wintry depths. 


In brilliant winter sunshine, a great white egret

lands in a field of horses, 

I see him again a few days later as I walk along the Finchale Road

past the World War II ammunition bunkers

soaring through the air, king of the skies.


The sky slate grey, blustery wind, sleet bitten

I walk the dog feeling miserable

my heart lifts as I see three roe deer

bouncing through the copse 

making their way across the grey concrete boulevard

alongside the prison’s high security perimeter wall

a flash of white rump in the dusk.


After the storm I walk the dog, the wind still strong

trees have fallen, the path littered with debris.

I skirt the beaten track towards the lake

and catch a glimpse of colour in the farmers field, a dead bird lying in the grass, 

striking browns, creams and buff, beautiful even in death

a barn owl, blood spotting feathers red, from a wound in his head. 

About the contributor

Rachel Burns’ poetry has placed in competitions including BBC Poetry Proms 2019 competition; Poetry School/ Nine Arches Press Primers Four Competition 2018; Mslexia Poetry Competition 2014; Headstuff Poetry Competiton 2018; Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize 2017; Creative Future Literary Awards 2017; Positive Images Peace Festival 2018 & 2019. Her poetry pamphlet, 'A Girl in a Blue Dress' is published by Vane Women Press.

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