Cormorants over Sainsbury’s

A black bird, feet lazily behind like a heron but smaller, darker, more distinct, flaps with slow inevitability above the supermarket along the line of the River Silk, settles at the top of a tall, sparsely leafed evergreen. At a respectful distance, its mate follows, but scouts vaguely beyond into the empty air space over the car park, before turning back in a narrowing gyre; and settles symmetrically in the summit of the same tree. They look strangely significant. Lines from a saying that hasn’t been written. Portents or omens. Their heads are raised: staring upwards at higher things, like sentinels, or the models for a heraldic device, or witnesses to a divine plan.

Coming back the following day and looking up at the tree, their absence now seems somehow ominous.

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