Common Things

By Barbara Claridge



by the underpass

the jackdaw

jabs criss-cross

the openfield

square by square

like police finger tips

search long grass

juicy with sap

between silk stems

and butter cups

his grey helmet head

and thick neck


bobby beating back and forth as

he struts

tips his head and listens for

leather jackets and slow worms and

stabs the soft ground


recent rain after

a dry april spell

sweetsmell wet grass as

i pass




Inspiration: I live very close to Southampton Common and every day during lockdown, before breakfast, my husband and I would cycle round and round the Common for permitted exercise. We liked to go early before there were too many people about. In May, when there were buttercups everywhere, I noticed the behaviour of several jackdaws which strutted about like policemen in helmets and worked on the image as I rode home.


Pens of the Earth is about encouraging writers to celebrate existing environmental initiatives, and to imagine what might be.

Help us to support our global reforestation charity Tree Sisters and plant 2,000 trees by March 2021.

Click on the logo above to donate via Pens of the Earth’s TreeSisters page. Every £10 plants around 25 trees.

Learn more about Pens of the Earth:

Sign up to the Pens of the Earth mailing list.

Follow Pens of the Earth on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed.

Star & Crescent are proud to support Pens of the Earth as a media partner. Stay up to date with all the Pens of the Earth stories as they’re published here.

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay.

S&C is managed and operated by a small team who work on a voluntary and freelance basis to run our website, social media and engage with local residents and communities.

If you want to find out more about the challenges facing local independent news: visit the #SaveIndependentNews campaign website, get involved with S&C, donate, and help us spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.

And if you want to know more about us, click here.