Gathering (sonnet for Covid and Corella)

In ones, in pairs, in threes, in tens, and more,
the birds arrive each hour until the lake
must surely harbour more than it can take,
though still they come to settle at its shore.

They amuse themselves with all the noise they make,
squabbling as they feed and stake out sites
for nest building, and mate between the fights,
become more ferocious for their nestlings’ sake,

in good years. Because some years the lake is dry.
In others there’s abundance to the brim of it,
like this, the birds in thousands, reeds grown high.
Fortunes, year to year, prove indiscriminate.

A gunshot rings at dawn. In the panicked din,
the flock is safe, but less each bird within.

– Richard Holt, April 2020 –

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