the arrow

The cormorant poises on the river bank. Its dark wings reach for the sky in sleek curving arches, ready to snap into action. Its eyes are turned upward to the sun desperately trying to escape the clouds, which is something I have never understood because the prey they seek is below them, beneath the murky surface of the river. It is steadfast in its pose, exuding strength and amassing sheer energy. This imposing, dusky, creature in its hunter’s pose is reminiscent of a ballerina on the stage frozen as the curtain raises, ready to dance their hearts out for a rapturous crowd. Or a bow string being drawn by a master archer—effortless, taut, building and storing energy as it is gleaned back, waiting for the moment to exhale, to strike. The release is fiercely violent and an absolution all at once. It is so spectacular that it is this kind of contradiction. Many of the best things are contradictions; think about it and I think you’ll realize this is correct. I see the dark twisted reflection in the water and realize that the bird mimics the gnarled branch of a fallen tree. So impossibly still, it waits for its prey, ignoring the ducks that meander by, doing their own kind of collective dance as they hunt for amusements in the tall reeds growing along the edge of the water. The grey dawn does not disturb the cormorant in its quest. The passersby on the trail, chatting, running, or pedaling like I am, none of this distracts it from its task. What does it think of? Is its sole thought on the tasty fish it waits for? Is it in a meditative state? You rarely see stillness such as this. Sometimes the explosion of movement and subsequent ripples are the only indication to me that it was ever there. It is an arrow in the water.

 

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