by Bernard Briggs

Beside the river Helmsdale, an elderly man under the peak
of an RSPB cap is sitting outside the café, finishing his beer.

Strung around his neck, leather-cased binoculars.
In another age, my father. A keen watcher, though not of birds.

Dad would scan holiday horizons, from Swanage or Shanklin
cliff-tops, for coasters slowly threading the English Channel.

Glass empty. The birdwatcher scrapes foam from his lips and
wanders off, past an old Fifie, hauled up onto the grass.