The Curlew’s Auspices, Read by a Novice Augur


I first hear your bubbly call before I see you. I follow your voice and wet my feet. There, wading along the estuary, your curved bill breaks the sunrays, thin claws leave footprints in the sand. Shoes and socks soaked, the damp seeps into my bones as you eye me from the side, suspicious of my intentions: what draws me to your camouflage plumage? You judge me too blobby a body, can’t flow nor fly. All I have is the chicken sandwich in my hand, and my heavy leather boots. 

Corliu [Old French: messenger]

Your bill pierces the sand. One-two-three, you drag out a lugworm, wriggling in your grasp until gulped down. You watch me intently, tap your frail feet, left to right, left to right. I stare back, face blank, don’t understand. You cackle and caw in a quiet voice: is it a warning? I shrug and present my open palms to you. Forgive my innocent ignorance, oscine. You pull out another worm and throw it in front of me, making me grimace in disgust at the writhing flesh. Shoo, I call, no longer intrigued by you but appalled. 

Courir [French: to run]

You run away, your legs moving so fast they blur before my eyes. Spread your wings, I yell after you and thrust my arms towards the sky, almost dropping my sandwich. You won’t listen. I jump over the worm and chase after you. And still you won’t lift yourself up in the air, into safety. The beach-walkers throw me confused looks and I come to a halt. Lower my head in shame. Feel my cold toes rubbing against each other. When I lift my gaze, you’re gone. I stretch my neck and turn, and there, just above the dunes, I catch you in infera, brushing the sharp tips of the reeds.


We meet again in the pasture beside my house. Land for Sale, a bold sign screams at the passers-by in cars. The grass flattens beneath my weight; my footsteps are fierce. I’m late for my blind date at the beach. A screech and wild fluttering, I stumble and almost land in your nest. That was close. I see you land some distance away, your reproachful glance on my clumsiness. Four eggs are sitting in your nest, green with brown speckles. You are truly a master of adaptation, I smile at you. You cock your head to the left and call, curl-ew, curl-ew, curl-ew. 


I spy on you daily with my new binoculars. Watch your nest when you fly down to the beach to hunt crabs and molluscs. Observe you breeding out the eggs. Vet your lady-friend nesting nearby. She seems alright. One day I spot a fox lurking around the bushes. I drop everything and run to your rescue, chase the bushy-tailed away. The next morning I check on you and find you devastated, pecking at eggshells speckled with blood. Your lamenting call is an arrow in my chest. But there, at the far end of the pasture, a male curlew is watching you through obsidian eyes. Whether horny or compassionate, I cannot say.

Christina Hennemann (she/her) is a poet and prose writer based in Ireland. Her poetry pamphlet “Illuminations at Nightfall” was published by Sunday Mornings at the River in 2022. She’s the winner of the Luain Press Prize 2022, was shortlisted in the Anthology Poetry Award & Dark Winter Contest, and longlisted in the National Poetry Competition. Her work appears in Poetry Wales, Skylight 47, The Moth, York Literary Review, fifth wheel, Ink Sweat & Tears, Moria, National Poetry Month Canada, and elsewhere.

Find her online: and on Twitter: @chr_writer