Surveying the Platypus (a volunteer's poem)

By Annie Didcott 
on 15 Sep 2016 

Surveying the Platypus

Oh what fun, so much better than telly.

But wait! The platypus is shy and rare –

You’d be lucky to see one. And be sure to

Get your ripples right!

Hanging from a cliff by the skin of your teeth

Or sitting on bum-freezing wet sand

Virtually IN the river, for an hour at a time;

It’s patience you need, fortitude, dedication,

Staying constantly alert. Is it really such fun? 


With still no sign of this mythical creature,

My eyes open to the river’s glories –

And discover and realise a Wonderland. I fall in love!

Still, yet flowing, silently sliding past and along

Disturbed only when wind plays tricks with water

To create endless, delicate, rippling patterns

That come and go, snowy drifts reflecting the clouds. 


Trees, alive and dead, double up as the mirror

Reverses the vision, puzzles the eye,

Allowing endless possibilities to mix and match.

Raindrops fall, making new ripple patterns

Ever-changing range of circles, no two the same –

It’s polka-dot heaven!    A sudden loud splash!

No, not a playful platypus, an excitable fish

Testing its strength – or catching a fly. 


My mythical creature remaining aloof,

My attention turns to a myriad of birds –

Mr & Mrs Cormorant settle onto a favourite branch

And maintain their dignified evening watch.

The swallows swoop, twist and turn, skimming and

Scooping up unwary insects an inch above water. 


A sacred kingfisher, straight as an arrow

Shoots downstream, shortly to shoot back again

Too fast to take in his glorious plumage.

White-breasted ducks, a family, forage and sail

Along the far bank, then turn again to seek out their hide. 


Before the sun starts painting the western sky

With his beautiful palette of pink, orange, mauve,

An eagle makes a short stop then, moving upstream, is gone.

Proud cypresses, roots deeply embedded in rocks on the ridge,

Spread their black lace against sun’s last farewell. 

The river darkens,   the unseen platypus takes to his bed,

And all is utter peace.


Annie Didcott, 28th August 2016.