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afternoon turns to evening
we wait

cockatoos call through rustling trees
their voices harsh,
jeering, even—
as though mocking us

with their secret language

water strokes the land’s edge
with little splashes—plop,

and then
three white specks
soar over the water
and onto the trees beyond

if we were close enough,
we could hear the rustling of wings
as they land
we imagine it

as though encouraged
more cockatoos make the journey
we count the splashes of white
as though they were stars—
eighteen, nineteen, twenty—
now a whole group has burst from their hiding place
still more come
the air a frenzied mass of white

finally, with agonising slowness,
the last one makes its way over the water
to the trees beyond
this one is the teenager, the rebel
we watch as it flutters in mid-air
before choosing a branch to settle on

the water begins to whisper once more
the trees resume their chatter
satisfied, we leave

behind us,
a blanket of cockatoos stifles the trees

afternoon turns to evening Laura Halliday
Laura Halliday, 13
Sydney, Australia