In the midst of morning mist
which hugs and strokes the river,
a season’s first moorhen chick
floats by, charcoal-balled, lifeless.
Too early for life’s adventure.
Plucked by current, snagged and
jostled, bobbing in the ripples,
floating on a starry River Styx
awaiting Charon to ferry his soul
to Hades and eternity.
I lean against the garden fence,
craning my neck to the river bend and
watch the fluffy charcoal ball
disappear. I’ve seen it many times
before. Nature’s sadness.
The mist lifts. Blue skies and cotton
wool clouds dance in the river: a
fanfare of daybreak. All around
the sound of moorhens fussing,
The river is haughty. Strong, unhurried.
Full of life, indifferent to weakness.
A nonchalant nursemaid. A deadly
assassin. A fatal watery attraction.
A sanctuary and a grave.
The moorhen chick is forgotten.
A short-lived sacrifice. A blood offering
to the river gods. Soon, new life will
return to the river with the wonder
and promise of rebirth.