Geraldine Moorkens Byrne
On The South Side Of The Lake - Poem by Geraldine Moorkens Byrne
Low cries of heron; curlew calls and circles.
In the chill air
I shiver, stamp the cold earth, hug goose-fleshed arms against
and smell the evening air of grass and turf
and just a little, smoke.
There are echoes on the air, faint calls from the other side; carried by
the still lake water,
and whispered back and forwards through the reeds.
Above the lapping water of the south shore, is heard
The easy good humour of parents, bringing in the young to tea
And as they fade away I listen to the distant lowing of the herds
and the goodnight calls of the homebound rooks.
The day has been mild, late September’s warmth and damp, with darkly swaying trees
poised on the brink of Autumn, hinting at the pageantry to come.
Now at dusk the swallows flirt in twilight, swoop and fall against the blue-black
rain-clouds: by morning, there will be pools among the rocks:
lakes in miniature, with waterfalls and estuaries and sailing boats
of bark and leaf.
I cast a line and light a filter-tip, the first of some thirty-odd
and huddle over the glowing end as though it were the campfire.
Perverse it may seem, but I feel warmer. Brave again, I cast again;
I watch each ripple and hope.
How dark the water now, like mirrored glass, polished to an onyx-like gleam.
The evening speeds away towards the night, bringing with it all the hunted rustles
and sudden starts, the death and lust of dark, and the agitated rising of the prey
against the thrust and dart of feathered fly, the tautened line and I, with racing heart and quickened breath, measure out the seconds of the fight and stumble, crash and shake
‘til at last I see, a silvered panting form against the net. I sit and smoke and proudly guess
the weight and length and is it not the king of trout, to be landed by a woman’s hand?
There are no witnesses on the south shore of the lake.
What humankind there is, is sitting on the sandy shore of the north, warmed and excited in a bonfire’s light and have no notion
nor do they care, for the heroic victory of the lonely angler.
I share a moment’s wild excitement with my prize and then, with a whispered prayer,
gently free him from the net and ease him, with my love,
back into the waiting embrace of the lake.
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