Beyond Symbiosis


There are little birds
Which glean between
The teeth of crocodiles,
Hopping, unafraid and undismayed,
Across the bloodied jaws
Left gaping for these feathered tooth-picks.

Such is symbiosis:
When creatures hook their living
To another.

I know a robin
Just as brave;
For, when I dig my garden,
He flutters down
Beside the spade’s blade,
To peck for any worms
Or mites I might have turned.
Whether the most fool-hardy
Or boldest bird
To lord a garden,
I cannot tell.

He tips his head,
The better to fix me
With his black-bead eye,
And then I purse my lips
In some rough, warbling trill.
We seal a bond
Beyond symbiosis.

For whilst I speed his foraging,
He quite stirs my heart
And seeds the notion
That man and bird
Might not exist
On separate parallels
But converge, instead,

No wonder this for you
Who, I know,
Might spy a sprite
Riding a jewel-eyed damsel-fly,
Or glimpse a fairy
Swinging pollen from a laden catkin
And never doubt it.

So, when I whistle
To my robin,
I shall wonder no more
That nature sends such fellows,
But see, with you,
An ordinary magic,
Beyond symbiosis
But far, far beneath
The possibilities of fancy.

Poems for Artemis