Monday, 13 October 2008

Wing sync

Swans on the beach. I've seen them there so many times before, so why does it still strike me as odd? 

Cooling off in the shallows, all of us, in the heat of a surprise sunburst, I hear their distant cranking song, like they turn the wheels of an old rusty machine. 

A Cessna swoops down low, banks steeply to look at the crowd of white confetti. As the engines splutter like unhappy Bluebottles, paddle feet trip and stumble to lift braced wings into flight. They remind me of the first moment a hesitant crowd begins clapping for an encore. Awkward and unsure, the slow applause of feet is out of sync and un ab le to get back to geth er. The beats and syllables don't meet until they are all free of the ground. 

And there, as they join to circle, as wings fall into rhythm, they hum out that strange ghostly hoot, that seems to come from closed off throats, the excitement of held breath, and the friction of broad wings.