Whatever is desired
is grown toward:
a glimmer of fish
at the margins of rivers
and streams, or in marshes
triggers a longing –
a muted, persistent
itch in the newborn
heron which
she feels at the base of her
fledgling bill, a sense that will
persist until the optimal
fish-spearing length is reached.
From this point to
eternity her dreams
are crammed with fish
or the nervy, darting
shadows of fish.
How much less complex
life would be
without this feverish
dance between
the wanter and the wanted,
though the truth of it is
that without fish
all heronkind would
be stunted.


Julia Copus

(Published with permission from The World's Two Smallest Humans, Faber and Faber, 2012)


Julia Copus was born in London, near to the Young Vic theatre, and now lives in Somerset. All three of her poetry collections are Poetry Book Society Recommendations. She has won First Prize in the National Poetry Competition, the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (2010), and in 2012 was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. She also writes for radio; her first play, Eenie Meenie Macka Racka, was awarded the BBC’s Alfred Bradley prize for best new radio playwright. She is an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund, and in 2008 was made an Honorary Fellow at the University of Exeter. Her third collection, The World’s Two Smallest Humans, was published last year by Faber and shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Costa Poetry Award.