Those who’ve been following this blog for a while might have read this already on commaful at https://commaful.com/play/cathycade/mirlings-in-winter/. Or perhaps in my collection Witch Way, and other ambiguous stories (available from Amazon).
But for more recent followers who’ve been reading the mirlings saga, here’s a verse I wrote earlier.
Skimming down the waterfall, bouncing off the pebbles,
sun has roused the pondlings for forbidden winter revels.
Hair streams like blanket weed; scales spark like ice.
Legs thrusting like a fishtail through the water slice.
From shallows’ warmth to chill depths where the fish don’t stir,
we pass between, attracted by the pond pump’s whirr.
Bodies cooling, thoughts grow heavy, yet we watch and listen;
fight the pump’s drag till a gap shows, where the fan blade’s missing.
Then up the snaking tunnel, poured into the filter box,
to skid across its slimy foam and dive beneath the floss,
gills closed against the sludge, with pounding heart and brain,
spewed out, to skitter down the waterfall again.
Children scamper from the house through freshly fallen snow.
‘Dad, Big Bird’s been here, on our grass. Look! Footprints in a row.’
Father comes to view the tracks – a spur and three sharp toes.
‘Looks like a Heron after fish. He stood here by the pond
to watch but couldn’t catch one through the reeds, and now he’s gone.
And you’ll be late for school. It’s time for breakfast now – come on.’
All’s quiet in the garden. One more turn before we’re done.
Before the cold reclaims my soul, we’ll chance another run.
The sun’s moved round and left the pond. Dark clouds are gathering too.
Those whirling blades seem faster now; we barely make it through
to ride the dark hose, surf the surge and join the water’s fall.
But something’s watching, perched up on the channel’s stone-clad wall.
Black beady eyes, a beak descending. Quick – between the stones,
dodging and weaving as it strikes. . . we should have stayed at home.
Under rocks, through channels. . . still we flee this dinosaur
until – like music calling us – we hear the cascade’s roar
and drop through churning water with no energy to jump,
ready to sleep till Spring. . .
With luck, they won’t have fixed the pump.