Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A River of Stones: January 25

The pied shag is perched
on a tangle of driftwood
in the river
his wings outstretched
like my high school teachers
flapping down the corridors
in their long black gowns.

for A River of Stones

The bird known as a shag in New Zealand is known in many other countries as a cormorant. Because they have no oil in their feathers, they spend a lot of time with their wings stretched out to dry in the sun. (What they do on wet days, I'm not quite sure). We see them often by the river near our house.
I don't think teachers wear their academic gowns much these days, but when I was at high school, they were worn not only at assemblies but also in the class room. My mother, who was a teacher, said that it was a very good protection against chalk dust. Of course, these days, with whiteboards and whiteboard markers, that is probably not a consideration.


Kathleen Jones said...

What an appropriate image, Catherine. Lovely

Unknown said...

Wonderful words and images Catherine.
We have shags at the lake and I love the way they stand ever si still with their wings outstretched. I've never thought of black gowned teachers..but I will from hereon.