The tide’s out, the sand muscle–ridged,
and its two-footed bounce
is always behind you, pan-pan,
It reports to the one-eyed old man;
memorises your sandy track
as one wing sweeps it clean;
your direction is its thought.
Meet its black-eyed challenge:
come on then, if you think
you are hard enough. King Raven
is top of the tree, sweeps
all the baubles away, blunt beak
ready to search wounds, dig out
the sweet softness of an upturned eye.
‘Have you hung there long enough?’
asks the old man. Sea-swept sand
space-dizzies into wings, skims
you cawing into the empty sky
Ruth Aylett lives in Edinburgh where she teaches and researches university-level computing. She was joint author with Beth McDonough of the pamphlet Handfast, published in 2016. One of four authors of the online epic Granite University, she performed with Sarah the Poetic Robot at the 2012 Edinburgh Free Fringe. She has been published by Antiphon, The Lake, New Writing Scotland, South Bank Poetry, Envoi, Bloodaxe Books, Poetry Scotland, Red Squirrel Press, Doire Press and others. See www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html for more.