River, I came for a poem but instead,
I watched your swollen muddy waters
Swill out the kingfisher's nest again
Massacring innocence and investment.
Downstream in the brown flow,
Electric blue future, halcyon tomorrow tossed
Mercilessly on your torrent,
The courageous flash of blue
Faded to empty carcasses of hope.
And after the flood,
Your water lay across the fields
Shimmering like newly mopped lino.
Pristine white gulls bobbed serenely on the cold surface.
I slewed round the dark bend and screeched a halt.
Atop the verge, eyes flaring, an aloof
Fox paused, a precise paw raised
To cross the cold road for the temptations
Of fields beyond. Taut body trembling distrust,
He stared defiance back at the harsh lights.
A stand-off; I offered him safe passage,
But what gestures correspond between us?
A sleek, russet spirit ever hunted,
Heir to primal knowledge, from a line who
Wound the first ways through ancient trees and lore,
Before venal mankind laid black metaled
Roads across sylvan order and verdant
Concord. Invasion and vile suppression.
A nervous glance back to the haven of the hedge,
Weighing the danger from old foe.
I bore the shame of my kind, the guiltless
Fox slid unbowed to safety. Other nights
I glimpsed him, until one cruel morning,
Matted fur and crow picked eyes, he lay stiff
And broken in the gutter, one raised paw
Twisted in pain and outrage. I flung him
In the field to hide the crime and because
He belonged there, to decompose on the
Earth he'd roamed, and owned. Aboriginal,
Oppressed victim of a voracious tribe
That denudes and lays waste the countryside.
Bones and sinew lay moldering;
The heart beat through still air,
It has always beat there.
Immaculate rising sun
Back-lighting trailing clouds,
Deserted wet beaches,
Warming rock pooling memories.
The heavy, lumbering, early heron
Splits and languorous new sky,
A lonely daub on a sand painted canvas.
Skeins arrow across saffron leaching into lavender wash,
Synchronized pink signed wings glide down,
While rattling rooks like ink-spots on blotting paper,
Tumble to cold fields.
Michael Wynn is a published short story writer currently completing his first novel from his home in Northamptonshire, England. Writing provides him with the perfect escape from the mundaneness of a life in sales.
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