One of my abiding memories from a visit to the Skelligs, too many years ago now, is of gannets moving to and fro in the air between us and the islands. Of all the scenes I’ve ever witnessed, this was the most magical; it seemed we were approaching an enchanted place, a rock fallen from Paradise. Apart from the spectacular beauty of the spire-like Skellig Michael rearing heavenward out of the ocean, the gannets, white scarves drifting on thermals, gleaming in sunlight, looked like mythical creatures freed from gilt cages to mesmerise any would be invaders.
To soar, shining, across the heavens is an image of divinity. To waft effortlessly is an attribute of a creature whose divinity is so ingrained that it is taken for granted.
I came across a gannet, its head disappearing into the sand, its wings broken like a wrecked ship, yet its beak still pristine like a perfectly forged dagger, and got a strong urge to write a poem about it. Not a very original idea: the pointlessness of vanity when all too soon our beautiful heads disappear into the soil.