Miklos Radnoti, marched from forced labour
in Yugoslavia back into Hungary, came to rest
near a bend in the Radca, at what his translator
describes as "a strange and lonely place" where
the tributary joins "the great river," a marshland
watched over by willows and "high circling birds."
Condors perhaps - they appear in the notes and
poems he was writing - under a foamy sky.
Huddled in a trench with the body of a friend
who'd been shot in the neck, he wrote with a pencil
stub in his notebook: patience flowers into death.
His wife's face bloomed in his head.
Thinking of the petals of crushed flowers
floating in a wake of perfume, he wrote to caress her
neck. The fascists' bullets wiped out his patience.
His written petals survive.
Today, we listen to the news of war
here in a river sanctuary my wife's unbending
will has created - horizontal slats of cedar, verticals
of glass - a Mondrian chapel of light.
This afternoon just before dark the first
greenshank arrived from the Hebrides.
Ignorant of human borders, its migration
technology is simple: feathers
and fish-fuel, cryptic colour and homing
instinct. This elegant wader landed on a mooring,
got ruffled in the westerly, then took off again,
an acrobatic twister, and levelled down
onto a mudflat - a lone figure that dashed across
the shore, stood on one leg, then, conducting
its song with its bill, came forward
in a high-stepping dance.
~ R. Adamson