While cheeky geese just squawk and cry, the gentle swans sail idly by.
With grace and power in their wings, like mighty warriors, water kings.
While cheeky geese just squawk and cry, the black and white coots try to reach for the sky,
With long webbed toes, on the river they run, a wet pitter patter, an object of fun.
While cheeky geese just squawk and cry, four silent storks come gliding by,
soaring high on waves of air. Not friends of the water, yet very much there.
The geese with their squawking are like eccentric old aunts.
Who don’t know that their chatters are lacking in charm.
Yet so full of the joy of their own noisy being: ‘hear me, see me’, their confidence brimming.
Not powerfully graceful, nor little and cute, yet I love their flawedness, I love that they’re rude.
Now they all sail by and ask to be fed, the swans, demanding, the geese, just glad.
The coots, busy busy, as they peck at the crumbs and with beaks full of bread their rivals outrun.
A heron sits shyly, straight and aware, wings flapping wildly – to reach for her share.
Then perfectly balanced, away she steers and in the reeds the frogs croak in delightful fear.
Amidst all this water-filled life that I see, Eros now enters with passion and zeal.
Last year’s cygnets, not yet coupled for life, show off their prowess in search of a wife.
Feet thwacking the water as their bodies they launch,
swooshing their wings, torsos outstretched and taunt.
The females, the pens, play hard to get: let rivals chase rivals, the strongest they’ll bed.
And with infinite grace last year’s lovers now dance, their white necks flowing, as if in a trance.
Preening and washing, love’s tango complete,
they form a white heart with their necks so sweet.
Nearby the coots have made a nest of their own, tucked into the reeds the hen sits alone
father coot guards her, brave without fear – fiercely attacking all that come near.
And now I discover, a lonely brown duck, with a clutch of six eggs in the reeds, all snug.
No guardian for her, he’s already gone roving finding the next lady duck for his loving.
See there, he chases some new feathered skirt, his violent attention seems mildly absurd.
Yet to be so desired, such courtship, such lust, when more than one lover at your tail feathers thrusts.
This posing and this posturing, erotic and rude, so vivid, so alive is a brief interlude.
I watch and I listen, for soon we’ll adore, the goslings, the ducklings, and the cygnets once more.
In the quiet of the night, I ponder their lives, their indigenous knowing, and how they survive.
Do the swans see the ducks, do the ducks see them back?
Do they notice that they’re different – do they judge their attacks?.
Do they make up stories, about how the other might be?
Compare notes as they swoop, as they peck and peep?
All I see is acceptance – it just is what it is.
All this mating, this chasing, making sure that you live.
It is I who makes stories who tries to make sense.
Seeing grace in the swans, and courage in hens,
The shyness of the heron is my fantasy alone,
And the rudeness of geese, is purely my own.
The Vecht – March 2014 – © Lysanne Sizoo