Cambridge Riverside


Flapping and splashing she came
bending the water’s light
six hovering ducklings
plying her jagged wake,

raging and rattling
as if she had an itch,
twitching and preening
in wraps of flying drops.

Then the flotilla came.
Two white battleships
six silver cygnets
in line formation swept,

upturned from time to time
like sinking ships they plunged
their wiry heads into the mud,
their cygnets cruising on.

Up the bank she crashed
to warn them off,
clapping her wings.
Her offspring closer packed.

The flotilla passed
cool and sleek on its course,
hardly a quiver
marking its silver trail.

She plunged back in
throwing her patient brood
into haphazard disarray.
Carefully they regrouped,

then an oblivious paddling
drake caught her eye.
In an angry rush she sent him
squawking by.

The man knelt by our seat
and changed his wife’s shoes,
“Good service,” I said. “Hip
replacement,” she replied,

and for a flash more light
flew from her impish face
than from the whole rivers length,
“New lease of life,” she said.


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