Friday, 13 May 2011

Cheated by nightingale

Time is running out if I am to be seduced by nightingale. I've been hunting one for a week, and know that by June, the fickle creatures will escape my clutches, and depart our English summer. Then that will be that; my desires wasted for another year.

I don't know when they'll go. I bet it will involve a moment of unstoppable, wing-waving impulse. Drunk on night-time song, they'll suddenly jump up and fly away, as quick as they can, gone from Suffolk and Norfolk to where else I can't catch them.

But who knows where they go? Inconstant, flighty, unreliable, I bet those faithless little creatures will take themselves just where they please, with each passing fancy, somewhere south, or east, up with the wind, down with the clouds.

Maybe the cheating little rogues fly away to consort with skylarks. Maybe they serenade the suburbs of evening Nice. Maybe they pass hot nights in the scrublands of southern Spain. Lured by the kissing lips of the blue Mediterranean sea on the rugged shores of Africa, they'll no doubt be off again, skimming round the coast and landing, holiday mood, in Guinea-Bissau, to cavort in tree tops, and fool around in the fingertips of the bushes that tickle the edges of the mangrove swamps.

That's a long way from England, you faithless rascals. The thought might send me mad, all over again, that I have to wait another year to track you down.

Once, they found one. They put technological investigators close on its trail and followed the cheating creature to its other feathered nest.

Well, you should be here, you flighty piece. With me, in Bradfield Woods. So determined am I, to imagine that you're here, I think you are, for one good half hour.

We all stop on the path, hold our breaths and listen. We exchange glances. We hear a song that doesn't have any endings, and no beginnings either. The notes start knock-knock-knock, but tumble up and down in snatched phrases. The phrases are all bound by silences. I can't detect a repeat, a common trill, or a routine rise and fall. No one can predict what's coming next, or whether you'll fall high, or low. It's like you're trialling the overture, without ever completing the opera.

So, tempter and miscreant, I'm telling myself that I caught the sound of you, but you failed me on the symphony. You still have a lot to live up to.

But be warned. You should never wrong a woman. If you do, know that I shall find pleasure when you're gone with the next warm wind. I shall hug myself and tell myself that really, after all, you were nothing special. A summer promise, never delivered, that's all.

Then I shall tell everyone what I know. That if I really did catch a sight of you, I would find you nothing more than what you are. Nothing of a looker, that's for sure, you plain, brown, elusive little bird.

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