White Ibis, Soaring

© Graeme Chapman (photographer)

Today he lands under the clothes line
and walks on the grass below.
Treading gently toward the shadowland
of the verandah, he approaches the house—
closer than ever before.

The grass welcomes the touch
of his beak. Delving, he enters the secret
place of ferns and purple berries.

They will not confirm when he arrived
in this new territory of suburban backyards,
far from the green-gold of Hyde Park
where his species can be seen
stealing food from human hands.

They say he is homeless, a wanderer
in search of food and shelter.
His native roots bewilder and succumb.

He disappears behind the garage. I watch
and wait. Just when I think he is gone,
curved beak peeks around the corner,
shadow flaps grey against olive green shed.
Flying low to the ground, he lands again.

He carries memories of rivers in the pink
beneath his wings, deepening into red—
blood rivers flowing in a marshy homeland.

He carries the transient building of his life
in the sweep and glide of his flight,
moulding these coasts and cityscapes
and landfills into the shape of home,
the tender shape of power.