Arrow was black: deep pitch, no light black. Not yet fully winged, nor fledged, mother fed its gaping beak.
High above the track, iron rails shook her home, nest built by mother and father: nurtured their eggs, three, only Arrow survived. Peaked over its eerie high, hid by leaves, insects droned and buzzed, other birds sang, smoke rose from trains beneath. In the distance, on the horizon, more smoke billowed.
In her growing strength knew no time, merely the rhythm of seasons: cold sharp damp snow, of migration, of plenty, mating and young. Of circles broken by death.
Arrow’s eyes clear, dark, shiny, all seeing, swivelled about, saw all around her: predators savoured her for food, likewise she scanned for her own nutrition, own food to live.
Flew, cautiously at first, left her nest, rose into blueness, chirped proud, then never stopped from early to sun setting in the west. Extended her range: each day further, higher, lower: picked earth worms, ate small flies. Pecked wild forest fruit.
Confident, each day wandered, soared, spied tracks, through mighty forests surrounding the iron tracks, over massive fields. Swept in circles with one eye cast over the horizon’s smoke, scanned earth for food with the other.
Memorised, imprinted on her mind pathways, routes, marked by time from sun rising to setting and the habitats of animals too large to devour – fox, wolf, badger and deer – each with their own patterns.
Summer, autumn, winter: snow. Fear, cold, smoke, dense black, acrid and choked on the horizon. Trains clanged over frost, steam hissed and spat, snow fell from trees with a dull noise. Three, four trains, more often, in a day. Uncomprehending Arrow slowly circled above their wooden carriages, heard cries, moans, knew no desolation and pain, though experienced hunger and waited patiently for prey to break cover, grow careless, to sustain her for another day or two.
Spring came, Arrow larger, fuller, grown, sought a mate, but stopped. Primitively knew not now. Fought off males sought her own company, flew on warm breezes, glided effortlessly.
Maria, Ruth, Paul and James their school long closed, boarded, quiet where joy rang around their games: emptiness and sorrow.