The men would sometimes try to catch one, throwing a looped wire at the great white cross that tracked their every turn, gliding over their deep gulfs and bitter waves: the bright pacific albatross. Now, with a cardboard sign around his neck, the king of the winds stands there, hobbled: head shorn, ashamed; his broken limbs hang down by his side, those huge white wings like dragging oars. Once beautiful and brave, now tarred, unfeathered, this lost traveller is a bad joke; a lord cut down to size. One pokes a muzzle in his mouth; another limps past, mimicking the skliff, sclaff of a bird that cannot fly. The poet is like this prince of the clouds who rides the storm of war and scorns the archer; exiled on the ground, in all this derision, his giant wings prevent his marching.
"Albatross in Co. Antrim" from The Wrecking Light by Robin Robertson. Copyright © 2011 by Robin Robertson. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.