close up photography of cormorant bird
Most precious moment of the day,
beside Doha Bay: I kept pace
with a cormorant. No race,

I kept abreast and let the rest
fall away, the Wolf Moon pulling
on the tide as I let the fish-eater guide

me through shallow waters in search
of juvenile flatfish, his patch of bare
yellow skin at the chin reassurance

he was indeed a Great and not his cousin.
Swimming low, his thick neck straight,
he made amazing time. When he surfaced

with a silverbiddy in his heavy beak,
I didn’t speak though I wanted to say
         Well done! All day

in the shallow muddy bay,
the dark diving bird spread light
each time he emerged to dry broad wings,

extending them in a triumphant stance.
      I longed to take a chance
beside the voracious sea raven—

      let beauty happen,
enter the room of the unspeakable*
The day was Greek Epiphany.

What better way for the water
to be blessed than by this phalakros
korax, bald raven.**

Diving, emerging as the tide was rising,
outspreading wings with such finesse
as if gathering us to enfold and bless.

*Stanley Kunitz
** Latinised Ancient Greek: φαλακρός (phalakros or bald) and κόραξ (korax, "raven").

Diana Woodcock

Diana Woodcock is the author of seven chapbooks and five poetry collections, most recently Holy Sparks (2020 Paraclete Press Poetry Award finalist) and Facing Aridity (2020 Prism Prize for Climate Literature finalist). A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a Best of the Net nominee, she is the recipient of the 2022 Codhill Press Pauline Uchmanowicz Poetry Award (for her sixth full-length manuscript, Heaven Underfoot), the 2011 Vernice Quebodeaux Pathways Poetry Prize for Women (for her debut collection, Swaying on the Elephant’s Shoulders), and the 2007 Creekwalker Poetry Prize. Currently teaching at VCUarts Qatar, she holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, where she researched poetry’s role in the search for an environmental ethic.