by C. Door
The story of a Cuckoo, a Fox, and a Serpent. Half poetry and half prose.
(Half poetry & half prose, 1400 words)
A cuckoo sat on a thicket by a brook in a glade among a wood. Berries grew on the Thicket and flowers grew in the Glade, and the Brook liked to trickle. The Cuckoo liked to listen to the Brook, or to pick the Berries and gaze at the Flowers. But on this day She sang, and Her song was ‘koo-Oo, koo-Oo.’ Out of the Wood that day there came a fox, Who was the most sly beast of all beasts, and He called up to Her.
‘Good morning dear Cuckoo!’ Said He,
Wearing His best and bushiest tail.
‘Thy voice is fraught with sorrow, what ails Thee?’
‘Alas, all the world ails poor Me!
My heart is like winter and so do I wail.
Oh Fox, I am lonely, but let it not be.’
‘I am dull, and My solace to Thee would be little,
Yet fly down to Me from aloof on Thy nest,’
He said while suppressing His spittle.
‘Nay, already does Thy charm away whittle
The sadness and the gloom in My breast.’
And She heard the wind through His tail say ‘whistle.’
‘But this burden of grief would sink My flight
To earth and not consolation but death.
Rather climb that tree hanging over My height.’
'Would spoil the fun,' he mumbled, 'yes quite.'
–I said for Thee shall I climb till last breath!’
And He thought of birds, eggs, and a feast that night.
While the Cuckoo awaited the Fox she thought of His bushy tail and the lovely sound it made in the wind. Then a serpent, Who was the most subtle reptile of all reptiles, appeared in the Glade. He slithered through Her favourite garden of Flowers and She called down to Him.
‘Oh Serpent! Surely Thy path to here by fate is bent and meant,
At least it might be if Thou have knowledge of eggs.’
‘In deed I felt urged by fate–’ and He checked His tongue that about flung.
‘–And I know much of them, but not of legs.’
‘Then Thy arrival is a miracle! For in fact one of Mine is cract,
Could Thou, oh please would Thou mend it?’
‘I happen to be in the practice of mending and service lending,
Fly down to Me and with Thyself send it.’
‘But if I take it from the warmth of My nest the yoke should choke.
Please, Thou must come up to My Thicket.’
‘As Thou wish,’ He said, and She admired his mail of scale.
‘That tree which hangs over Thee shall be my wicket.’
‘No, there is a mob of crows in it Who would peck Thy coat to wreck.
Pass rather through the old warren that goes under the thorn.’
‘Then so My passage will be, thanks, and wait for Me.’
And He thought, ‘soon My belly shall hold bird and eggs unborn.’
While the Cuckoo awaited the Serpent She thought of how lustrous were His scales and how well they completed Her Flowers. Then the Fox returned in the Glade. But before He could snivel of His misventures in the tree, the Serpent also returned. They each regarded the Other and neither seemed happy at all. Then the Fox forgot His slyness and the Serpent forgot His subtleness and They both spoke at once.
‘What are You doing here?’
‘What are You doing here!’
‘I’ve been pecked almost to death by crows while climbing an impossibly tall tree!’
‘Oh dear!’ Said the Cuckoo, ‘at least Thy tail–’
‘And I’ve tried to navigate a tunnel whose rabbits, I fancy, kicked Me closer to death than You were pecked!
‘Oh dear!’ She said again, ‘still, Thy mail–’
‘Yes!’ They said together, ‘All for That–
Silly Cuckoo!’ They said and They spat.
They looked angrily toward Her and She said ‘Gentlemen, please..’ But then They remembered Themselves.
‘A tunnel Thou said?’ Enquired the Fox with a smile sly, ‘Tunnels are a walk.’
‘And I think I will risk the tree.’ Said the Serpent in a subtle flick of His fork.
‘Halt!’ Said the Fox, ‘I offered firstly My service to Our dearest Cuckoo,
And the right to the tree Thou did not earn,
So if Thou has even a speck of honour Thy tail shall turn.’
The Serpent, Who in fact had no honour at all, was yet insulted, and said
‘My service to Her was not offered but requested,
So it is Thee who ought to leave ere My patience is tested!’
Then the Cuckoo flew down to Them and again pleaded,
‘Gentlemen, please let Us settle this kindly!’
But She was too late, and to battle They proceeded.
So flustered were the Two that They ignored the Cuckoo and once more forgot Themselves. All about the Glade was a great scuffle. The Fox scratched the scales off the back of the Serpent and they fell among the Flowers. And the Serpent pluct the tail off the Fox and it stood by the Brook. Then the Serpent wrapped His length around the Fox and strangled him, but in the same moment the Fox bit the Serpent and it was lethal. Before They both died They saw the Cuckoo standing over Them and They spent Their last words.
‘Buh-but Yuh-Your eggs–’ The Serpent stuttered.
‘You flew! Your grief? How–’ The Fox sputtered.
‘–Alas, We are deceived!’ They both uttered.
The Cuckoo sat on the Thicket by the Brook in the Glade among the Wood. She gazed at the scales that shone prettily with the Flowers in the Glade, and She listened to the sound of the wind through the tail as it mingled with the Brook. She had not the bother of eggs, nor even a nest. In some terms Her song was of sorrow, but on that day She sang a happy ‘kukoo.’ Then she; the Cuckoo, who was the most sly, the most subtle, and the most evil bird of all birds; picked a Berry.