what is this life…?

Late. Running with the grey herd
across the Manzanares bridge, I pause,
look down from the parapet, attention hooked
on the ess of a cormorant’s neck.
The race resumes; then, on the city side
the first green parakeet of spring
squawks my gaze skywards.

Cormorants on the Manzanares river, Feb. '09
Cormorants on the Manzanares river, Feb. '09


This draft will probably be polished into a different format sometime in the next few years. The title refers, of course, to W. H. Davies’ poem Leisure.

The river Manzanares presumably used to run through apple orchards on the edge of the city of Madrid. It is now, at least in the area I know it, an almost stagnant, green mire. Instead of the riverside fields where the local fiestas used to be held, the bridge crosses a huge expanse of dusty building site where the ‘beautification project’ to repair the damage inflicted by the burial of the M30 inner ringroad seems to have ground to a halt. Still, perhaps the cormorants appreciate the relative peace this hiatus has brought them.

The parakeets used to nest down by the river. Last time I saw them was in the parque de San Isidro where they seemed to be nesting in vast numbers. As far as I know, they aren’t actually autochthonous, and the population probably originates from a few escaped mascotas who have survived in the wild.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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