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Is That a Snake?

We wondered as we saw this large, dark water bird,
nearly inert, his plumage drooped and fanned,
his long neck craning as if he had heard,
an intruder, but no retreat he planned.

"Why," was my thought, "so vulnerable remain?"
On inclined branch at water's edge, he stayed,
and soon a reason for it became plain.
He was too wet; departure was not made.

Again, we watched a similar bird in flight,
and saw him dip and dive into the bay.
He stayed below the water, out of sight;
then, like a snake, his neck came into play.

Just below the surface of the lake,
his tail the rudder, grace of swimming wings,
neck and head, a gentle ripple make,
fishing bugs and minnows, water-living things.

Much like playful children, he repeats,
slippery dives, reveals to our surprise,
until satisfied, the patient watcher treats
with the fanned-out drying exercise.

How long, the passing hours of the day,
will he perch, drooping, dripping wings unfurled?
Nature-lovers observe another way,
God gives his creatures to live in this world.

Oil in feathers of water birds, innate,
prevents their soaking keeps them buoyant in the lake.
Anhinga, conversely, lets water's weight,
allow him, long swimming dives to take.

So, anhinga, unknowing, entertains,
living out his routine midst branch and fronds.
In a drying spread-out mode remains
until released from feathers' water-soaked bonds.

01/22/2014 Carol Welch
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