Time rolls on, a relentless tide. The measurement of its passage is painted in the mechanical rhythm of the timepiece and the unmarked tide of nature’s cycle. The polar opposites of life and death are the compass of this plane’s existence.
All spring long the business of life washes on the edge of awareness. The birds that come and go mark the current. Nests are built, eggs are laid and chicks are born. The naked skin sprouts eider and then feathers in mottled clumps that purport a life amongst the clouds.
The distance between branch and sky is a greater one than most might think. We mark the first day of summer as determined by the Gregorian calendar and the position of the sun and moon. Birds mark the change from the raw green of birth to fruition in a perilous learning curve that leaves the young vulnerable and earthbound waiting until time and genetic memory induce the safeguards that perpetuate the species as a whole.
The wheat is a golden glow spread out across the horizon. Impatient for the sky, the very young wait out their time nestled in its protective heights. Awkward and weak, they sit in false enclaves hidden from dire straights and natural selection until the gifts that buffer them from the harshness of their environment surface. It can not be called a game when the stakes are so very high. The price of failure to thrive, to survive, is glaringly displayed in the bright light of day.
Covered in ants and advertised by the curtain of flies that buzz in a coroner’s cloud the fallen sing a mute chorus to the vulgarities of a black reality. For every feather that takes to the current, for every song that rises in the morning light, there is a voice that is stilled and wings that drain into the soil forever lost to the warm flow of the air.
A small black mound of feathers lies broken in the rain nourished grass. Beetles dine and ants labour over and on the small dusky hill. Blank eyes stare upward to a sky that can’t be seen and therefore is no longer coveted. A delicate neck, barely covered in feathers, stretches out impossibly fragile and empty of song. The fledging that lies limp and broken on the bright green of the summer grass has bet on a long shot and come up short. It is a wager that we all make and while we might run hot for a span in the end we all pay out.
There will be no long days of summer and crisp autumn idles followed by winter’s push to warmer shores for the earthbound. There is only this silent testimony to destiny and the law that binds us all.