as if they had been told to stand there, segregated
like lines at the airport. A screech of gulls, a muster of crows
and tucked behind a dune, a contradiction
of sandpipers. I scrambled down the bank, disturbing a wisp
of snipe which scuttled off towards the ocean past the
cormorants drying their wings on the rocks. Larks twittered
in exaltation and, when I turned, all the birds were looking at me.
A large goose waddled up and spoke: ‘What’s the collective noun
for humans then?’ A pause, then they all started laughing, flapping,
filling the sky. I sat down on the grass. ‘A virus,’ I said
and the wind set off to spread the word.