Saturday, 4 April 2020

The sun and the avocet

Before he rose today, the sun asked the avocet -
"What have you found during your foragings this dawn?"
The avocet looked around her and, surprised that the sun showed an interest in her, reflected for a moment.
"Mr Sun," she then replied obligingly, "I have found that essentially nothing has changed. I mean, everything is the same as yesterday, and yesterday was the same as the day before."
The sun made no reply. He was busy working on a particularly delicate pale purple, whereby he wanted to announce himself to the hills on the opposite horizon.
Mistaking the sun's momentary silence for a gentle invitation to be-think herself, the avocet added, "Of course, this morning is the same, but it is also different from all others. Low tide is particularly low today, and so the parts of the lagoon where I am foraging are particularly tight with fish. The skin of the water is rippling with them, and many have been jumping, as if they had not enough space at this moment."

The sun had completed the creation of the desired pale purple.
"Ah," he said, "I like that you are so observant of others. I shall touch the water's surface now, to give it a little colour. It may help those mullet feel that their home is just a little more expansive until the high tide frees them."
He directed the light of his eye into the sky, which obediently threw a rosy spread upon the water.

"What else," he then asked the avocet, "have you discovered?"
"I hope I can satisfy your curiosity," the avocet replied a little nervously. "I will say that I have had quite a dawn of wise morsels. I must have felt this test coming."
"I am not testing you," the sun corrected the bird, "I am curious about what happens before I arrive."

"That does put a different slant on it, thank you, Mr Sun," said the avocet, humbled by the sun's frankness, and moved by the Great Light's desire to talk to her, an insignificant little wader. She paused for a moment on her long, thin legs, before continuing.
"Ok, Mr Sun, I will dredge up my deeper thoughts."
She hesitated, but then took courage. "Today I confess I thought about death," she declared quietly. "Or, not really death. I thought ... I mean, I found that when something dies," she said slowly, "it gives the time it used while living back into the world."

She paused again, not used to talking this much, and also somewhat a-wonder at the wisdoms her questioner was fetching out of her delicately up-turned beak. Then she added,
"I find this each time I eat a hermit crab. As soon as I swallow one, it fills my stomach with time that belonged to it, but which now belongs to me to find the next one."

"Very good, very good," chuckled the sun, as the colours on the lagoon became golden.
The avocet could not help but walk on her stilty legs straight into the stream of gold, because it lay directly in her path. She briefly felt herself disappear completely. It was as if she were being eaten by the light.

'Perhaps this is a bit like what the hermit crabs experience,' she said to herself, 'when they disappear in my warm body.'
But she did not tell this to the sun, who was by now a free ball in the sky, great and silent and beyond the possibility of any further communion.

'I'll save that wise morsel,' thought the avocet. 'Who knows, I may need it in the future?'

- Silke Heiss, 4th April 2020

Image of avocet: African Bird Club

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