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King of the Lakes

George Swan.jpg

                                                       Carol Lewis, ‘George Swan’

His children jostle by the banks
of Upper Lake and nod their thanks
for peas and cress, while Father scoots
around the lake and scares off coots
and moorhens, mallards, grown and chick,
with white wings arched; he paddles quick
to reach the centre, stops to rest
to wash his beak and neck and chest –
he plunges low to surface high,
erect of breast and wild of eye;
another pause, to sit and stare
then whoosh! to stretch through sunswept air,
each wing outstretched to feather tip,
the breezes beaten in his grip;
and last he grunts, with final shakes,
“I am the King of Pittville Lakes!”

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Published on The HyperTexts, Spotlight, September 2021
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This poem was a joy to write and I’m so happy that Mike Burch published it on THT, complete with Carol Lewis’s brilliant photo.

The Pittville Lakes mentioned in the poem are Upper Lake and Lower Lake, in Pittville Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. I’ve lived just 15 minutes from the park since Christmas 2011. As I’m a regular visitor, I’ve come to know the resident wildlife very well over the past decade, and no species more so than the lovely mute swan family, made up of George the cob, Zelda the pen, and the charming cygnets they raise every year.

Sadly, Zelda died in June 2021. She re-fractured a femur and infection set in too fast for the wonderful workers at Vale Wildlife Hospital to save her. But George is doing a wonderful job of raising the cygnets by himself. The poem describes what was going on during a park visit in August. I was impressed, as I always have been, by George’s fierce care of his children and sheer magnificence. He really knows how to strike a pose!

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