Author Topic: The Secret  (Read 15 times)


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The Secret
« on: February 11, 2018, 11:03:35 PM »
The Secret:

When my eldest girl was a child,
only waist high against me,
we often went walking together
when we were troubled,
or when brick walls caged us
and the comforts of home
felt more like a prison.

We shared the green countryside,
or along raggy-hedged riverbanks
where shrews rustled unseen
and voles painted v-shaped ripples
across smooth flowing water.

She'd chatter incessantly at first
then fall silent as nature took over.
Big eyed-with wonder at baby frogs,
or granny-pop flowers,
or following horse tracks in mud,
or the fairy grottos we saw
when exposed tangles of tree roots,
twisted by years of slow growth
through stony Cornish soil,
were revealed along sunken lanes
which meandered below the root line
of hedges in surrounding fields.

Then she spoke in hushed whispers,
as if in a church.
Which, in our own way, we were.
"What's that?  Why?  How?"

One day we found a baby partridge,
still softly fledged, probably a reluctant flyer,
crouched trembling and defenceless
in a hoof print in dried mud.
"Look, Love.  Isn't it tiny?"

The camouflage almost perfect.
Betrayed only by the frantic mother
flapping erratically to catch our attention,
playing 'wounded prey' to distract us,
to lure us away from her child.

We crouched long enough to see,
to fix it in our memories,
and I told her not to touch,
not to frighten it.

Then we walked on,
hushed and delighted.

Twenty yards on I stopped,
turned carefully, and pointed.
The mother had returned,
chivvying her fledgling
into a stumbling zig-zag hop,
into the better cover of vegetation.

I told my lass to keep it a secret,
not to tell anyone.
I knew she'd want to tell her friends,
and the local lads would be out there,
after the parent birds,
maybe finding a second clutch of eggs.

Twenty or so years later I reminded her
and she smiled at the memory.

"It was so tiny..."
cupping her hands with memory.

"Did you tell anyone else?"

"No.  Not even Mum."

"You could have told your Mum.
She would have liked to hear."

"You said don't tell anyone.  So I didn't."
Quietly affronted at my question.

Now I watch her,
a little frown of concentration
with a smile of enchantment,
showing things to my Grandaughter.
The big-eyed wonder,
the solemn storage of memories,
passed on seamlessly.