Stymphalos

From marshy ground we were driven by a brave noise of castanets. Early morning. Bronze light. Up to his thighs in the oozy water of our swamps the bright noise of his clanging. Into the air. Our beaks in curves of danger speak, say, ‘Begone! Begone!’ Thoughts of these our homes, our hidden nests, the eggs hidden beneath the sweet swaying grasses. Wing clap and the wind against our breasts. We are between the cymbalist and the sun, our shadows quilting over him. Daylight. Sunrise. As one.

Silence now. We cry our defiance. ‘Begone! Begone!’ and ‘Nestrobber! Eggstealer!’ We have seen the yolks on his hands, the shells glittering in his beard. Slash! Stab! Bright the blood! The muscles that hang and stretch from beneath the skins. We know. We know. Alarum. Noise, noise, an endless noise. Something in his brazen song (clash the cymbals in the morning) sends us wheeling and whirling. We are confusion. We are less. We are falling, one by one, and now it is silent again. He sends death among us.

The eggs are hidden beneath the sweet grasses, though warmed no more by curve of downy body, though now laid open to unhinging jaws of snakes.. the eggs are hidden, the eggs… the eggs…