Swifts are in trouble. Their numbers plummeted by 47% between 1995 & 2014.
Swing-devil chimney sweeps, long sabres honed
for speed, they’re roaring boys on muscle bikes,
make screaming tumble-turns and boomerangs,
tails tuning-forks, high-flying anchor signs
from darkness into light, jet-stream ten weeks
from Africa, recurring tirelessly
May blossom out, legless the ancients’ held,
late August turnabout, all weather-wise.
When we deserted caves, swifts gave up cliffs
outside, spyholes in trees, for gapes in thatch
and tile or sheltered high-rise gable ends
to daub saliva-wattle, bonding, thrive.
They’re townies now, but lately we’ve new-built,
improved, plugged cracks to insulate. They’ve moved.