Nadia K. Brown is a healthcare worker and writer who finds as much inspiration in the everyday as in the spectacular moments that punctuate life. Her work can be found in Yellow Chair Review, Into the Void, and (parenthetical), and is forthcoming in The Corner Club Press, Avocet Weekly, and Lost Documents. One of her short stories was selected as a finalist in the Writer’s Union of Canada Short Prose Competition. Nadia lives in southern Ontario with her three children and a very large number of pets.
A Prose Poem
By Nadia K. Brown
Soon. In a moment, the rock came into view, framed by shadows that sharpened as he neared. Its western edge was doused in amber; glowing in the afternoon light. The water churned below in frantic syncopation, warning of low tide and a dry spring.
Almost. His breathing slowed as the dark shape rose up and broadened, revealing the ledge that was his target. The rock jutted towards him, cracked and jagged beside the rolling shapes that flanked it. Its outer edge dropped sharply to the water, as though a portion had been sliced clean and carried off by the rapids.
Now. He eased himself towards the rock, carving through the piercing drafts that boiled above the river; deftly skirting the lifts and drops that would cause him unease. The sun drifted over his back – building; collecting into resistance as he slowed himself down. Heaviness engulfed him, deepening as he landed. The black surface was cool and soothing against his fissured claws. He tiptoed cautiously, until he found a comfortable groove. Carefully lifting each foot in turn, he bent his legs towards the sun, pushing until his muscles gave, and stretching his slender bill out past the rock’s edge. Soon, the sun would dip behind the darkening hill.
Move. Colliding drafts pushed against his feathers, urging him to leave. But the endless dark that he’d come from had been filled with snaking winds – the green below him blackening, while white water clung and seeped through his feathers: the world a mass of grey dust and shadows.
The others had already arrived – he sensed them in the flat waters beyond the trees, settling in the tall grass. Just a moment more, and then he would find them. Then he would drift down under his wing. Gradually, his tail lowered. It grazed the surface of the rock before sweeping through the cool mist that rose from the river. His toes no longer danced along the ledge.
The others, now. Later, he would return to the rock – when only the river’s churning broke the quiet dark. While the others still floated in the shallows, he would perch on the ledge and wait. And the river would wait, too – it would slow, almost imperceptibly. And then, in an instant – right there between the two pines that straddled the gulley – the air would ignite, piercing the dark and kindling every part of the world. Red steam would rise and splash onto the rocks. Fierce flames would leap, racing against the rapids and shaping the air to its currents. The water would hiss, changing quickly from inky black to crimson. For a moment, as each whitecap rose and fell, the whole world would be steeped within it. And when he lifted off from the rock, the air would feel like red silk under his feathers.
Later. Now, in the flat light of the afternoon, he fanned his wings, stretching them up and open. Cool currents of air slipped underneath, brushing against his feathers.
There. Stretching his frame towards the trees, he headed to the marsh to feed in the shallows – where he would let his feet sink into the softness, and his wings fall thick with dew.