I envied the heron that lived his life at the edge of the park by the weir, between there and the estuary. I envied him his wild detachment; his haughty superiority. The huge nest in the canopy of tree tops overhanging Telford’s road bridge must have made a noisy nesting place, but the heron didn’t seem to mind. There were frogs, mice, water voles, rats and fish aplenty and young moorhens and ducklings in season. His female was brooding a clutch of eggs when it happened.
The van’s brakes failed as it came careering down the precipitous, winding hill towards the bridge. The driver made his choice. Ahead of him was a street of busy shoppers. To hit the bridge would mean a disastrous plunge onto the trickling river bed. He veered off to the left onto the grass, and using the hand brake; he swerved and slammed side on, into the trees. Badly bruised, cut by flying glass, shaking from his experience but otherwise unharmed, he clambered out of the wreck.
She hadn’t left her post, the female heron. Her universe had shuddered and shattered. Branches damaged by the winter storms had cracked. Her body hung limp from a branch, neck broken, six feet of wingspan outstretched. The nest had plummeted to the ground and half formed chicks, all dinosaur and yolk, were splattered over the river bank. Everybody remarked how fortunate it was no one was killed.
Later, I stood and watched the solitary male, a slender, stilted statue; alone and vulnerable amid the grey rushing waters of the weir.
Oonah V Joslin lives in Northumberland, England. Winner of the Micro Horror Trophy 2007. Most read in EDF, January 2008. Guest judge in the Shine Journal 2008 Poetry Competition. She has had work published in Bewildering Stories, Twisted Tongue 8 & 9, Static Movement, and 13 Human Souls. She has work coming up in The Linnet’s Wings, The Ranfurly Review and Boston Literary Magazine. You can link to work, follow up-dates and contact Oonah at www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/.