Ali Rowland

We pick at the layers of rubbish with our sticks
as the crows do at dead birds on the beach.
The feather, flesh, bone and blood
mimicked in used tissues, wipes,
COVID test strips, bottles, cans,
plastic of every shape and colour.
Things people touch intimately, then discard.

We would all rather be picking litter on the beach.
Instead, a littered-up lay-by: a place to eat,
drink, mess about, toss remnants into
the edges of fields which might
feed the interest of a future archaeologist –

Except that:

the birds are dying of
us, the sea is dying of
us, the land is dying of
us. Who will be there to want to
know how we used to live?

we get coffee in paper cups and
walk on the beach. In the still, hot air
the bins are full,
crowds have replaced the crows,
but nothing is still.